PHILADELPHIA -- Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen praised rookie Jonathan Huberdeau after morning skate Thursday at Wells Fargo Center for being the first one at the rink after taking a rocket off his knee in practice the day before.
"The young guy doesn't want to be caught in the training room on a veteran team," Dineen said. "It's a small thing and I don't even know if it was intentional, but there's an awareness of a pecking order. He's on top of the team in scoring, but he understands the dynamic of our team."
After watching this 19-year-old phenom dominate the ice later that evening with two goals, including his first penalty-shot tally, and one of his two slick assists that ignited Florida's two-minute, three-goal barrage of the opening period to key a desperately needed 5-2 victory over the Flyers, perhaps that pecking order has already changed.
The victory snaps a two-week, five-game winless streak, and gives the Panthers a shot of confidence as they head to Pittsburgh Friday for 'Sid the Kid' and the second part of this Pennsylvania swing.
Dineen's hunch to start veteran backup goalie Scott Clemmensen instead of Jose Theodore and recent callup Jacob Markstrom also paid dividends as Clemmensen continued his mastery over the Flyers (5-1-1).
"We needed this for the team," said Clemmensen, who recorded 32 saves for his first win (1-1-2) of 2013. "This is a tough building to come play so for our confidence in general it's very good and for myself, the last couple of games haven't gone the way I wanted. I analyze things for a day or two and move on. This league's about being consistent."
Clemmensen was en route to a shutout before giving up two harmless goals in the final 6:11. Huberdeau's linemate Peter Mueller notched his second goal of the night at 14:33 to secure the victory.
The Panthers finally got an assist from the schedule maker as the Flyers were coming off a six-game road trip that ended in an emotionally draining 6-5 victory over their arch-rival Penguins in Pittsburgh Wednesday.
"We knew that homestand wasn't good enough," Mueller said. "We knew they played Pittsburgh the night before and might have a loss in their step. We wanted to get on them quickly and that's what we did."
Huberdeau displayed his ethereal stick skills when he snatched a bullet pass from defenseman Mike Weaver along the sideboards before threading a needle pass to Mueller, who rifled a slot-shot past Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at 8:15.
Just 29 second later, Weaver's two-line pass sprung Tomas Kopecky for a snapper and a 2-0 lead. It's Weaver's second two-assist outing in the last three games.
With the Flyers pinching in, a cherry-picking Huberdeau raced toward the net when he was hooked by defenseman Kimmo Timonen for an obvious penalty shot.
Just as he did in the shootout of the Panthers' last victory, a 3-2 OT win over Philadelphia on Feb. 7, Huberdeau's dekes practically spun Bryzmalov into the ice before he casually deposited a backhand in at 10:15 for his first career penalty-shot tally. It was his second game-winning goal, both against the Flyers.
"He had a heckuva game," Dineen said. "We're about kids watching stuff on youtube and learning different creative moves. There's some old school when you make a move like that, it's how you react after you score. He understands his standing within the team."
Huberdeau, who notched his first four-point game, has eight goals to lead all rookies. Bryzmalov flung his goalie stick in anger as the Panthers took a 3-0 lead into the dressing room.
"It's about hockey. I wanted to play tonight," Huberdeau said of his bruised knee. "My confidence is high but we got to come back out (Friday)."
Huberdeau took advantage of back-to-back power plays before he jabbed in a rebound of fellow rookie Drew Shore's shot at 11:46 of the second period for his second multi-goal game in the past five.
The Panthers ended an 0-for-16 power-play drought that had stretched over 350 minutes and 23 seconds in six-plus games.
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