SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Jeff Carter doesn't mind playing with different lines, as long as the goals keep coming.
Carter scored two goals in the second period and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 Tuesday night.It was Carter's second two-goal game in his last four and he leads the team with 32 goals. Coach Peter Laviolette had juggled the top three lines coming into the game hoping to improve the scoring.
"It's always good to switch things up," Carter said. "You play with guys too long and you can get complacent. We tried it out to see how it went and, for the first game, not too bad."
Scott Hartnell also scored for the Flyers and Brian Boucher made 20 saves. The win was the Flyers' third in eight games but they maintained a one-point lead over Washington in the Eastern Division.
Stephen Weiss and Dmitry Kulikov scored for the Panthers. Tomas Vokoun stopped 28 shots.
Philadelphia tied the game at 2 on Carter's first goal at 4:43 of the second. The Panthers lost control of the puck between the circles in front of their net. Carter grabbed it, turned and fired the puck into the net.
Carter's second goal of the game came later in the period at 15:23 and gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead. The Flyers won a faceoff in their own zone. Danny Briere got the puck in the neutral zone and skated in on Vokoun. He passed to Carter to the right of the crease, and his shot got past a sprawling Vokoun.
"Carter had a great second period. Great speed by him and Briere on that one goal, and a great shot on the other, so a good effort," Hartnell said.
The Panthers took a 2-1 lead on Kulikov's goal at 18:11 of the first. Sergei Samsonov passed from the right circle back to Kulikov just inside the blue line and his slap shot got past Boucher.
"They were playing at a high level to start, but we weathered the storm. I know we were unhappy to be down 2-1, but we kind of took the game over in the second," Boucher said.
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead at 4:28 of the first. Ville Leino passed the puck from behind the net to Mike Richards at the bottom of the right circle. Vokoun came out to block a potential shot and fell down in front of Richards, who passed the puck to Hartnell in front. His shot got past Weiss, who went into the net to try to block the shot.
"I thought we played hard tonight. We were smart," Laviolette said. "We got going there in the second period a little bit. It was a tight game, so I thought it was a good road win for us."
The Panthers tied it at 1 on Weiss's goal. Keaton Ellerby brought the puck out from behind the Panthers net with a long pass to Samsonov on the side boards near the red line, who passed the puck out to Weiss near the blue line. Weiss skated in between the circles and his shot got past Boucher's outstretched glove at 7:06.
"They've got a lot of good players," Florida's Niclas Bergfors said. "We prepared for it but didn't battle hard enough to shut those guys down."
The Panthers are trying to make the best of it with a roster with 10 players recently called up from the AHL.
"You're not going to play mistake free," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "They're the highest-scoring team in the league and when you make a mistake they stick it in the back of the net. (We) could easily come in here and roll over considering what we've got and they're not doing that. No one likes that we're not winning but you can't deny they're giving an effort out there. That's all a coach can ask."
NOTES: Philadelphia D Chris Pronger had successful surgery to repair a small fracture on his right hand on Tuesday. He is expected to miss three to four weeks. Pronger first injured the hand on Feb.24 against the New York Islanders when he blocked a shot. ... Carter has 15 goals in his last 23 games. ... Weiss has 14 points in his last 13 games against the Flyers.
The Associated Press News Service
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