The Philadelphia Flyers started the season with seven losses in eight games.
With a win Monday night at Florida, they'll transpose those numbers for a current eight-game stretch.
Climbing back to .500 in the second month of the season seemed entirely out of the question for the Flyers (10-10-2) after digging themselves such a hole. But they've won three in a row for the second time this month, scoring 14 goals on the current three-game streak after needing 10 games to score their first 14 of the season.
"When we were 1-7, one of our goals was to get to .500," forward Matt Read said. "We have to continue to build off this and keep going."
Read scored his seventh and eighth goals in Saturday's 5-2 home win over the New York Islanders. Half of his goals have come in the last two games.
Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds each had a goal and an assist. Giroux's three goals this year have come on the current seven-game hot streak after beginning the year without one in 15 straight. Simmonds has scored three of his four goals this season in the last four games.
"We're playing better, but we have a long way to go," Giroux said. "Everybody is contributing. It's a lot more fun."
The Flyers still have work to do before being considered a quality offensive team. They rank 25th with 2.23 goals per game, but the recent success has pushed them past the Panthers, who are 27th at 2.12.
Steve Mason made 36 stops against the Islanders to improve to 4-0-1 in his last five with a 1.57 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. In his career against Florida, he's 5-0-0 with a 1.17 GAA and .960 save percentage.
Philadelphia's only win during the woeful start was a 2-1 home victory over the Panthers on Oct. 8. It was coach Craig Berube's first night behind the bench after replacing Peter Laviolette three games in.
The Panthers (6-13-5) haven't been able to gather similar momentum under interim coach Peter Horachek, though they have improved. They're 3-4-1 under Horachek after Friday's 4-3 shootout loss at Calgary. They'd gone 3-9-4 prior to that.
The shootout loss ended a five-game road trip at 2-2-1.
"I've got to be real proud of the way the guys reacted," Horachek said. "Good road trip. From that standpoint, going .500 and all tough games, I think that's really positive."
They'll need more offense if they expect further improvement. Defenseman Brian Campbell and forward Tomas Fleischmann are tied for the team lead with 12 points. Fleischmann has done it in 23 games, which is the worst points per game average (0.52) of any team's leading scorer.
Jimmy Hayes scored his first goal since being acquired from Chicago on Nov. 14, and Marcel Goc's sixth of the year tied the game in the third, but the Panthers' 2-for-6 mark in the shootout wasn't enough.
Tim Thomas is 17-4-2 with a 2.16 GAA in his career against Philadelphia, including the postseason. He allowed two goals on five shots against the Flyers on Oct. 8 before leaving with a groin injury. He'd beaten the Flyers in nine of 10 before that.
Philadelphia has won five straight at Florida, including a 7-1 rout Jan. 26 behind Read's hat trick.
Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver has missed four games with flu-like symptoms and is questionable.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved