ATLANTA -- If you were looking for a particular stat to explain the Flyers’ 3-2 win over the Panthers on Tuesday night, you need to look no further than the blocked shot column.
The Flyers blocked 22 shots, including 9 in the 3rd period, which equaled the number of shots that got through to Brian Boucher. That allowed Boucher to pick up his 6th win in his last 8 starts.
“We did a good job of blocking pucks and keeping them to the outside,” said Jeff Carter, who posted his second two-goal game in his last 4 contests.
It was the most shots the Flyers have blocked in a game since stopping 24 against Dallas on Feb. 5.
Braydon Coburn had a monster night, blocking 5 shots and laying a game-high 8 hits. Kimmo Timonen also blocked 4 shots.
Despite being holed up in their defensive zone for the bulk of the third period, the Flyers allowed Florida to net just 7 shots on goal for the period. Another 8 of those shots missed the net entirely, a testament to the Flyers’ willingness to get sticks on pucks and get in shooting lanes.
Florida never really amounted any high quality scoring chances to put the game in jeopardy.
“That’s always something that we put emphasis on,” Boucher said. “Early in the game, they came at us a bit and got some chances but they didn’t get any shots on goal. We were blocking them or forcing them wide. I thought we did a good job.”
PRONGER FINE: Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren relayed the message that Chris Pronger underwent successful surgery on Tuesday morning in Cleveland to repair a small fracture in his hand.
Holmgren said Pronger’s timetable of 3-to-4 weeks will remain the same.
With Tuesday’s win, the Flyers are 12-5-2 without Pronger, 36, this season. This is Pronger’s third different injury of the season and his second surgery.
BOYNTON OUT? Peter Laviolette said that he wanted to get rookie defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who was re-called from Adirondack on Tuesday, some vital NHL experience before the Flyers head into the playoffs.
Gustafsson will play against Atlanta on Thursday, Laviolette said at Wednesday's media availability. Laviolette said he liked the way Gustafsson played in his NHL debut on Feb. 26.
Laviolette did not say, however, which defenseman would be out of the lineup. All signs point to Nick Boynton.
Boynton played just 5:39 and was a minus-2. Boynton can’t really be blamed for either goal. Not only was the Flyers’ fourth line stuck out on the ice for both goals, but one re-directed past Boucher via Darroll Powe’s shinpad.
Sean O’Donnell played just 9:34 and all four of the Flyers’ top defensemen played north of 23 minutes.
Gustafsson posted 36 points in 59 games with the Phantoms this season.
LINEUP SHUFFLE: Did you notice that Laviolette completely changed the Flyers’ lineup last night, mixing around different line combinations and defense pairings?
He combined three centers to form one line with Danny Briere, Carter and Claude Giroux. That line produced two of the Flyers’ three goals.
Laviolette said his main reason for doing it was to allow the Flyers’ bigger guns to get more ice time. For the most part, the Flyers have rolled 3 lines all season.
“It’s a different look,” Laviolette said. “Every one in a while, you do that. By jamming those first two units with those guys and our top units on the back end, it really allowed us to push up our minutes for those guys.
It also meant breaking up the long-lived line of Briere, Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino, which have been together almost exclusively since the playoffs. They have been broken up off-and-on but always seemed to find their way back together.
“It doesn’t matter who we play with,” Hartnell said. “If we’re playing systems with energy and execution, we’re a tough team to beat.”
STATS OF THE DAY: Thanks his goal against the Panthers, Scott Hartnell now has 20 or more goals in 5 out of the last 6 seasons. Hartnell and Braydon Coburn combined for 15 of the Flyers’ 31 hits against Florida.
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