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Bergenheim leads Panthers past Flyers

The SportsXchange

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Welcome back.

No one could blame Florida Panthers fans for feeling that way after a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at BB&T Center on Monday night.

That's because two players who had yet to score this season -- left wing Sean Bergenheim and defenseman Erik Gudbranson -- combined for three goals.

Bergenheim, who missed last season due to an assortment of lower-body injuries, got the first two. Gudbranson -- who had not scored since Dec. 30, 2011 -- got an important third tally.

Even though he was battling a cold, Bergenheim was still able to finally crack the score sheet.

"This was one of the harder games I've played because I had a little flu," he said.

Panthers goalie Tim Thomas (6-7-1), starting his ninth straight game, earned the win. Flyers goalie Steve Mason (7-8-2) took the loss.

Philadelphia closed to within 2-1 on a power-play goal by right wing Wayne Simmonds with 12:54 left in the third period. Simmonds, in great position to the left of Thomas, swatted home a rebound for his fifth goal of the season.

Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov had been sent off for two minutes for roughing, giving the Flyers a man advantage they finally converted after getting stopped on their first three.

But the Panthers put the Flyers away with Gudbranson's goal with 4:08 left in the third period. It bounced high off Mason before trickling into the net.

"They played well tonight, moved the puck and made some plays," Flyers right wing Claude Giroux said. "We got out-battled the first two periods."

The Panthers earned five points in their just completed five-game road trip and started their five-game homestand in positive fashion. They are 4-4-1 under new coach Peter Horachek.

"We were fearful coming off a long road trip," Horachek said. "Usually when (you come back from a long trip), you don't have energy. But I was happy with our response."

Philadelphia, meanwhile, had a three-game winning streak snapped. The Flyers had scored 14 goals in those three games, but all three were at home.

Bergenheim, a native of Finland, had not scored a goal since April 24, 2012. He missed last season due to an assortment of lower-body injuries. But he got two goals in the second period Monday to boost the Panthers.

"I feel, all in all, that it's coming after the surgeries," Bergenheim said of his game. "It's not there yet, but it's getting better. It's been such a long road with so many downs -- a few ups, but mostly downs."

The Panthers earned the first major momentum shift of the game in the second period, when their penalty-killing unit negated the Flyers' five-on-three advantage for 83 seconds. Philadelphia tried four shots with the two-man advantage, but one went wide of the net and the three others were stopped by Thomas.

"Anytime you get a five-on-three, you've got to get the puck in the back of the net," Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell said. "The first two periods was how we played the first 15 games -- awful.

"We got distracted. Maybe we thought we were the better team and coming here would be an easy game. When you underestimate your opponent in this league, you're going to get (beat)."

Just 29 seconds after the penalty kill, the Panthers got a goal on Bergenheim's wrap-around shot. He later added to his goal total with a deflection that got past Mason. That power-play goal came with 6:01 left in the second period.

Judging by crowd noise, the most exciting thing about the scoreless first period was a fight between Flyers left wing Jay Rosehill and Panthers right wing Krys Barch. Both players landed heavy punches.

Thomas, who finished with 38 saves, said the win was extra sweet due to the circumstances the when he played the Flyers earlier this season.

"For me, the big memory of that game was me getting hurt," Thomas said. "I thought about that. But I (also) was thinking we had a pretty good road trip, and we wanted to start the homestand the right way."

NOTES: Panthers LW Jesse Winchester (lower-body injury) was scratched, and D Mike Mottau was a healthy scratch. D Mike Weaver, who had the flu, returned to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 15. D Ed Jovanovski and F Steven Pinizzotto are both on injured reserve due to hip injuries. ... The Flyers are still without D Chris Pronger and D Marc-Andre Bourdon, both on injured reserve due to post-concussion symptoms. ... The Flyers' scratches were D Hal Gill, LW Michael Raffl and D Andrej Meszaros. ... Next up for the Flyers is a game at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday. ... The Panthers play at home Wednesday against the New York Rangers.
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