Mason, Simmonds lead Flyers over Panthers 3-1
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Wayne Simmonds and the Philadelphia Flyers played a strong game in front of Steve Mason, and the goaltender was there when needed.
Mason made 38 saves and Simmonds had a goal and an assist, helping the Flyers beat the Florida Panthers 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Simmonds scored an even-strength goal in the first period and assisted Nick Cousins on the second of Philadelphia’s power-plays in the second.
Dale Weise also scored for the Flyers, and rookie Travis Konecny and Brayden Schenn had assists.
Losing the puck had been a huge problem for the Flyers in a recent stretch when they lost five out of seven games. Simmonds said the aim in this one was to clean that up.
“Turnovers have killed us in the games we’ve lost,” Simmonds said. “We’ve just got to do a good job of keeping it simple, and tonight we did.
“We took what they gave us and executed.”
Mason, who improved to 8-3-2 against the Panthers, said the defense in front of him made his job easier.
“Overall, it was a really strong game from the entire team there. From a personal standpoint it felt good,” he said. “Today was good, but I’d point back to the guys up front. They did a good job of moving bodies and giving me lanes.”
Reilly Smith scored for the Panthers, who got 25 stops from Roberto Luongo.
The loss spoiled the return of Florida forward Nick Bjugstad, who had missed all of this season after an injury in the preseason. The 24-year-old returned following a 19-game absence after breaking a bone in his hand in Dallas just before the season began.
Bjugstad, who has played center throughout his career, played right wing instead in his return.
Simmonds grabbed a loose puck in the first period following a faceoff in Philadelphia’s zone, beating defenseman Keith Yandle for possession.
Simmonds raced in on a 2-on-1, kept the puck and sniped a shot over Luongo for a 1-0 lead and his tenth goal at 11:11.
″(The Flyers) capitalized on their chances. We made a few mistakes that proved costly,” Yandle said.
Weise added his first goal this season, a power-play tally, at 13:03 of the second. Konecy collected the puck and fired a shot from the left circle on Luongo and the rebound was backhanded into the open net by Weise to finish off the 2-on-1 break for a 2-0 lead.
Simmonds helped increase the lead in the third period when he slid a pass over to Cousins, who beat Luongo for another power-play goal and his third this season at 7:04.
The Flyers ranks third in the league on the power play.
“We give them the puck on turnovers and they went down the other end and scored. They’re (among) the top PP in the league and you can’t give them second chances,” Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. “We made some bad decisions with the puck. We turned a couple over and it goes down the other end. You have to kill the penalty; that’s the number one goal.”
Smith broke up Mason’s shutout bid when he deflected in Jonathan Marchessault’s shot at 18:09 for his fourth goal.
Philadelphia forward Sean Couturier left the ice at 1:40 of the second period after getting tangled with Vincent Trocheck and falling to the ice. Couturier was helped off the ice by a member of the training staff and teammate Claude Giroux. He didn’t return.
NOTES: The game was the first of the Flyers’ two-game Florida swing. Philadelphia entered the game 2-3-0 in the first game and 4-0-1 in the second of back-to-backs. ... The Flyers scratched LW Roman Lyubimov and defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz. .. Panthers D Keith Yandle played in his 571st consecutive regular season game, pushing him past Mark Recchi into 11th on the NHL’s iron man list. ... D Alex Petrovic (broken ankle) is expected to miss two months after blocking a shot on Thursday in the Panthers’ 6-1 loss to Toronto. ... Florida scratched D Dylan McIlrath, C Seth Griffith and LW Shawn Thornton.
Flyers: Play at Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.
Panthers: Host Columbus on Saturday.