Garnet Hathaway calls game in huge win over Panthers

Philadelphia Flyers v Florida Panthers
Philadelphia Flyers v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages
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The odds were stacked against the Flyers. They were taking on the best and hottest team in the league. They were relying on an all-rookie defensive pairing. They had traded one of their most consistent defenseman and were down three due to injury. Philadelphia did get Travis Konecny back, a huge boost to their offense. They didn't need him on the scoreboard, however.

The Panthers were the clear-cut favorite in this game, and for good reason. And they dominated a large chunk of the first period. But as he has done this season, Sam Ersson stood his ground. He made numerous tough saves, including a pad save in the slow from a Vladimir Tarasenko shot. He also stood tall on a Sam Reinhart breakaway. That's a player who has had more than a career season this year.

Coming up with a save near the final minute of the period is even more important. A goal there could've been a backbreaker for the Flyers heading toward the intermission. Instead, Philadelphia scored one of their own 10 seconds into the second period. After getting fairly outplayed in the opening 20 minutes, they spent the next 40 more than holding their own with the Panthers.

After winning the opening faceoff, Travis Sanheim found Cam York, who went streaking through the neutral zone. He found Ryan Poehling skating in along the left side. Poehling cut toward the front of the net and roofed one over Sergei Bobrovsky. He has been a solid addition and is two goals off a new career high. It's why he earned himself an extension to remain with the Flyers. Depth scoring is important for a team looking to make any kind of run.

The Flyers had a chance to take a 2-0 lead, but the power play once again failed to generate anything. They had one shot, but had no pressure. Momemtum, as it does, shifted shortly after. The newly-extended Gustav Forsling would tie the game as Philadelphia was unable to clear the puck. Anton Lundell took the puck away from Noah Cates, the one trying to clear it. At the point, Aaron Ekblad sent it across to Forsling who fired the shot through traffic that beat Ersson.

Spoiler alert, that was the only shot that would get past Ersson in this game. And he was tested almost immediately after Forsling tied the game. With Marc Staal called for tripping, the Flyers' top-ranked PK was put to the test. Reinhart set Aleksander Barkov up for a one-timer off the rush. But Ersson tracked the puck and stretched the pad out for a huge save.

The third was a tale of two different periods. The opening half didn’t generate much for either side as there were a combined five shots between the two teams. It was a tight checking affair, but Philadelphia began generating more as the period went on. That was not before a painful shot block by Cam York. And with concern over him playing through a nagging injury. It was a treacherous few minutes waiting on his return. Thankfully, he returned three minutes later.

The play turned chaotic in the game’s final few minutes. Sean Couturier had a chance to break out of his drought off a dangerous turnover by the Panthers. But Bobrovsky was up to the task. It seemed like this game was destined for overtime. And getting one point against Florida would be a win in it of itself. But the Flyers didn’t want just one point, they wanted both. 

With less than 30 seconds to go, the Flyers cycled in the Panthers zone. Coming from behind the net, Noah Cates found Marc Staal at the point. The veteran defenseman fired the puck on net. Well his shot was stopped. The rebound came right to Garnet Hathaway, who fired it home with 21.3 seconds remaining in the game.

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It was only Hathaway's seventh goal of the season, but it was one of the most clutch goals he has scored. The Flyers still had to defend the final 20 seconds as the Panthers went with the empty net. Ersson had to make a stop off a Tarasenko shot with five seconds remaining. Scott Laughton blocked a shot off thr following faceoff to ensure the win.