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Rookie's shootout goal helps Panthers edge Flyers

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- In a shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers, Jonathan Huberdeau showed the exceptional skills that made him the third overall pick in the NHL draft two years ago.

Huberdeau and Peter Mueller scored shootout goals to lead the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 victory Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jack Skille and Stephen Weiss scored in regulation for surging Florida, which is 3-0-1 since a 1-5 start.

Panthers goalie Jose Theodore stopped 30 shots, then two more in the shootout.

Jake Voracek and Matt Read had Philadelphia's goals. The Flyers had won five of past six games against the Panthers.

Huberdeau went first in the shootout, and the 19-year-old rookie beat Ilya Brzygalov with a nifty move. After Theodore stopped Read's five-hole attempt, Mueller snuck one past Bryzgalov.

"Obviously a guy like Hubey, you can see the skill level he has," Theodore said. "Peter, same thing, Peter is really good on breakaways."

Theodore then stoned Claude Giroux to win it.

"He's a good goalie. He's been in the league for a while, and obviously he knows how to steal games and played pretty well tonight," Giroux said. "It's frustrating.

"Most of the game, we played well. We played some good hockey. There were a couple minutes there in the first where we were a little sloppy everywhere, but all around we played a pretty good game and a pretty solid team game. But in the end, we need those points. We needed that shootout win, and we couldn't get it done."

It was the first overtime game for Philadelphia and the first shootout for Florida. The Flyers picked up a point, though their two-game winning streak ended.

"They've been playing well as of late," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of the Panthers. "They're really a good skating and skilled team that can control the puck as they come through the neutral zone and look to make plays. I think we had opportunities in the middle period and the power plays, chances to win the game, and we didn't do it."

The Panthers avenged a 7-1 loss to Philadelphia at home on Jan. 26.

"That was embarrassing," Mueller said. "Everyone wanted to forget about that one ASAP. We knew it was going to be a tough game. They're a tough team to play against, especially in their hometown. We wanted to go with the game plan that we'd get in there deep, and forecheck. It worked out sometimes; at times it didn't."

Down 2-1 midway through the third period, the Panthers scored the tying goal just seconds after getting their first power-play chance of the night when Bruno Gervais was called for tripping. Weiss wristed a shot from inside the right circle that hit Bryzgalov's shoulder and bounced in.

Skille gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead midway through the first period on his first goal of the season. A former first-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks, Skille had been a healthy scratch the previous two games. He made coach Kevin Dineen look like a genius for putting him out there against the Flyers.

After some crisp passes through the neutral zone, Skille took the puck from Dmitry Kulikov, skated down the center and wristed a shot that sailed past defenseman Kimmo Timonen, hit Bryzgalov and trickled in.

The Flyers tied it just 52 seconds later when Voracek scored on the power play. He took a pass from Timonen, skated around the right circle and fired a slap shot from the faceoff circle. The puck glanced off defenseman Brian Campbell's stick and went right over Theodore's blocker.

Read, who notched a hat trick against Florida last month, gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead early in the second. Mike Knuble made it happen with feisty work in front of the net. He tried to stuff a shot past Theodore, who blocked it, but Knuble kept poking away until the puck came loose. Read picked it up and lifted it into the top corner.

All four of Read's goals this season have come against the Panthers, and he's got six in six career games against them.

"He's a good player, but tonight I stopped him on a breakaway, which was huge," Theodore said.

NOTES: Before the game, Timonen signed a one-year contract extension that will earn him a reported $6 million in 2013-14. "Kimmo's presence on the ice for us and in our locker room is invaluable," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "We look forward to him continuing his all-around play for us." ... Holmgren said injured forward Scott Hartnell may begin skating next week. Hartnell is out with a broken left foot. ... Philadelphia forward Wayne Simmonds missed his third straight game with head and neck injuries. He's been medically cleared for contact. ... Skille's goal was his first point of the season. .... Dineen and assistant coach Gord Murphy once played for the Flyers. Another Panthers assistant coach, Craig Ramsay, was Philadelphia's head coach in 2000-01.

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