Game Day: Florida Panthers at Philadelphia Flyers

If you’ve ever had the chance to go to Universal Studios and experience the Simpsons Ride — thrilling, by the way — you’ve no doubt been amused by the intro to the ride. In it, Simpson family nemesis Sideshow Bob confronts the group, holds them at gunpoint and proclaims, “A dish best served cold.” Homer replies, “Is it ice cream?”

The Panthers (3-5-1) won’t be serving up any ice cream in the City of Brotherly Love, but an appetizer of revenge could be on the menu before battling the Flyers (4-6-0). Philadelphia trounced Florida, 7-1, in the Panthers’ second home game of the season. In that one, goalie Jose Theodore gave up three goals on nine shots early, essentially putting the game out of reach. Theodore, who gets the nod tonight, should be the Panther leading the charge in evening the score with the Flyers.

STREAKING IN PHILLY — Perhaps no team in the NHL has been streakier than the Flyers, who opened the season slowly with a three-game losing streak. Philly finally entered the win column with a 2-1 win over the rival New York Rangers and added on (and on and on…) in Florida. The Flyers then lost three straight but have won its last two — 5-3 over Carolina and 2-1 against Tampa Bay, both at home. In Tuesday’s win over the Lightning, Tom Sestito scored both goals, only the third and fourth of his career.

WELCOME BACK, BIG G — Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson has returned to the club and could make his season debut tonight. Gudbranson has been getting in to game shape in San Antonio, playing a pair of games with the AHL affiliate and finishing with no goals or assists and a plus-2. The 21-year-old Gudbranson, the third overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has been rehabbing a shoulder injury suffered in September and would strengthen a blue line that hasn’t been nearly as good as last year’s.

Here’s Erik introducing himself to Steve Downie in last year’s home-opener:

SHORING UP — Dynamic first-year center Drew Shore continues to make a strong impression with the club. The speedy rookie has points in his last two games and leads with a 60.7% in faceoff wins. Shore, a standout at the University of Denver, had an assist in Winnipeg when his shot rebounded to fellow rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, who scored his third goal on the putback past Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

GOALS AND ASSISTS — Florida’s Alex Kovalev and Tomas Fleischmann are both chasing milestones. Kovalev needs a pair of assists to reach 600 for his NHL career, which ranks him sixth all-time. The Russian right winger is also sixth with 1,028 career points. Fleischmann, the team’s top scorer with eight points (3-5-8), is two goals shy of reaching 100. The left winger has three goals this season.

Florida (3-5-1) at Philadelphia (4-6-0)
Wells Fargo Center — Philadelphia, PA, 7 p.m.

BY THE NUMBERS

Power play: FLA 22.5% (12th) — PHI 17.8% (16th)
Penalty kill: FLA 76.9% (21st) — PHI 76.1% (22nd)
Goals for: FLA 2.44 (20th) — PHI 2.30 (25th)
Goals against: FLA 3.67 (28th) — PHI 2.70 (16th)

PANTHERS’ PACE

Florida has 7 points in 9 games: 37.3 over 48 games.

LOCAL TV BROADCAST
Fox Sports Florida, 7 p.m.
Steve Goldstein (PxP), Bill Lindsay (Color)

LOCAL RADIO
560 WQAM, 7 p.m.
Randy Moller (PxP)

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