Shootout Hero Jakub Voracek Finding Hot Streak When Flyers Need It Most

He had his chances.

A dazzling move in overtime to break in alone on the goalie, only to be tripped up and lose control of the puck just before getting a shot off.

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A clean breakaway with the overtime clock ticking below 40 seconds. He got the shot off with the Florida defender stick-checking from behind, then just missed tucking home the game-winner on his own rebound.

And then finally, Jakub Voracek won it in the shootout.

Voracek had himself a monster game in the Flyers' 2-1 win over the Panthers Thursday -- a win the orange and black desperately needed to keep their modest playoff chances alive (see Instant Replay).

Five shots on goal, an assist on the Flyers' lone goal and his team-leading fifth shootout goal. Voracek was buzzing.

When the puck came to him along the boards in overtime, Voracek diced through center ice to get to the slot, put on the brakes and cut back to the front of the net. He looked to have Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad -- who scored Florida's only goal -- beat cleanly when he was tripped. No call. The game went on. 

"Yeah, it's hard to call in overtime obviously, but yeah, definitely," Voracek said when asked if he thought it was a penalty. "I'm pretty sure I had him beat and I think he dragged the foot behind him on purpose. But like I said, he did a good play. It was the last chance for him. We went to a shootout, so in the end, it didn't matter."

What did matter was Voracek's shootout winner. Voracek came in hot, hypnotically weaving his way to the slot before going five-hole past James Reimer with his signature quick release. No dekes, no fakes, just the winner. Steve Mason made the ensuing save on Jonathan Huberdeau, sealing the Flyers' win.

"If I come with the speed, and if I have confidence in that shot, if you had to hit that right spot, it usually goes in," Voracek said. "It's hard for a goalie to stop it. I scored like that a couple times, but if I do that and don't score, I look like an idiot. And if I score, I look like a hero."

But in order to get to the shootout, Voracek had to create the Flyers' lone goal first, playing with new linemates Brayden Schenn and Valtteri Filppula, his first game as a Flyer (see story).

Midway through the third, Voracek skated into Florida's zone and cut to the high slot before dropping the puck to Schenn, clearing the way for Filppula to slip down the middle to tap in his first goal as a Flyer.

"I'm glad we got that goal," Voracek said. "It was a big goal for us and I think we kind of took over the game after as a team and carried through overtime and the shootout.

"We just stayed patient until the third. I think our best part of the game was after that goal. I think every shift we were buzzing in their zone."

With the Flyers just three points out of the second wild-card spot after the win, the team needs Voracek to continue his recent hot streak if it wants to earn a spot in the playoffs. 

"He played a good hockey game," Hakstol said. "At this time of the year, it's about good solid shifts one after another. He created some scoring opportunities tonight, worked hard both directions and much like the rest of our guys, he did a good job."

And Voracek has done just that recently. After a nine-game goal drought, Voracek now has goals in three of his last five games -- nearly four but the goal was disallowed -- and seems to have quickly developed chemistry with Filppula and Schenn.

With just 19 games to go in the regular season, Voracek needs more games like Thursday's to push the Flyers over the edge.

"We've got to go game by game," Voracek said. "Every game is huge for us. We did it last year, but last year is last year."

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