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5 Observations: This Time, Flyers’ Comeback Falls Short, 4-3, in Fla.



Felix Sandstrom, Philadelphia Flyers
Felix Sandstrom, shown in a file photo, got his first start of the season Wednesday for the Flyers in Sunrise, Fla.

The Philadelphia Flyers won’t go 82-0, Philly Hockey Now has learned.

The Flyers, winners of their first three games, suffered their first loss of the season Wednesday. They fell to the Florida Panthers, 4-3, at FLA Live Arena.

Philly (3-1) was trying to start its season 4-0 for the first time since 1995.

Florida, which got two goals from Carter Verhaeghe, snapped a 2-2 third-period tie and improved to 3-1 by winning its home opener.

Here are five quick observations:

1. A defensive breakdown led to the game’s biggest goal.

Rudololfs Balcers took a slick feed from Sam Bennett, went in alone, and beat Felix Sandstom with a high backhand shot, giving Florida a 3-2 lead with 16:09 left in regulation. Sandstrom had stopped 17 straight shots before Baclers’ well-executed tally, his first with the Panthers.

Nick Seeler, who played a strong game, and Egor Zamula were the defensemen who were unable to defend the setup pass.

About 40 seconds later, the Flyers’ Morgan Frost was stopped on a breakaway by Sergei Bobrovsky.

2. James van Riemsdyk is quietly off to a strong start.

With the Flyers on a power play, JVR dug out the puck in a wild scramble in front and tied the game at 2-2 with 4:44 remaining in the second. That gave the 33-year-old left winger five points (2-3) in the first four games.

3. Flyers goalie Felix Sandstrom had little support, but played well.

Sandstrom (31 saves), making his first start of the season, didn’t have much help, especially at the start. Florida had a slew of odd-man chances and had 10 shots in the first nine minutes en route to building a 2-0 lead on two goals by Verhaeghe. The second goal was a breakaway as he sped past Justin Braun.

Florida had 14 shots and four odd-man rushes in the first 20 minutes.

Sandstrom, 25, stood tall, however, for most of the game — though he will want Josh Mahura’s goal back. The defenseman scored from the left circle with 10:52 remaining to make it 4-2.

Carter Hart, the Flyers’ No. 1 goalie, was dominant in the first three games (2.00 GAA, .943 save percentage), but coach John Tortorella didn’t want to play him on back-to-back nights.

“He was pretty busy (Tuesday in Tampa),” Tortorella told reporters before the game. “This is the proper thing to do right now, early in the season.”

He said Sandstrom “had a really good camp” and deserved a chance to play.

4. The Flyers have gotten into a bad habit.

Philly has allowed the first goal in all four games, and it has fallen into a 2-0 hole in the last three contests.

They came back and won the first three games, and, to their credit, they rallied and were in a 2-2 third-period tie Wednesday before falling short.

Playing on back-to-back nights, the Flyers appeared a step behind the rested Panthers most of the night.  

5. Defenseman Nick Seeler displayed some slick hands!

Was that Seeler or Claude Giroux showing off his mitts?

Seeler cheated and moved into the attack and scored on a nifty backhander to get the Flyers within 2-1 with 3:29 left in the first. It was his fourth career goal in 152 NHL games.

In the second period, he again got offensive and nearly scored on a wraparound. He was also one of the Philadelphia Flyers’ most aggressive players throughout the game, getting into several scrums.

Kevin Hayes set up Seeler’s goal, giving him points in all four games; it was his 200th career assist. Later in the game, he added his 201st.


Travis Konecny (six shots) made it 4-3 with three seconds left. … Sandstrom stopped Matthew Tkachuk on a shorthanded breakaway early in the second period. At that point, Florida had 12 scoring chances to the Flyers’ two. … Flyers have a power-play goal in all four games. … Konecny appeared to tie the game at 1-1 early in the first, but the goal was erased after Florida successfully challenged that Joel Farabee was offside. … Former Flyer Radko Gudas assisted on Florida’s first goal. … Zack MacEwen had four shots and four hits. … Philly had a 19-9 shots advantage in the third. … The Flyers play in Nashville on Saturday at 8 p.m. on NBCSP+.

Flyers Claim Center Off Waivers from Avs; Played for Torts in Columbus

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