Lightning Survive Late Push, Defeat Flyers
A tremendous 6-0-1 stretch seems so far behind in the rear view mirror after a substandard sojourn in the Sunshine State. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Wednesday night.
In the process, former Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier's homecoming was ruined with the loss, along with former Lightning wingers Steve Downie and Adam Hall.
Victor Hedman's bad angle slapshot in the second period started the scoring. After a carom on a 3-on-2 rush, Hedman rocketed the puck past Ray Emery, who looked to have the post held tightly. First perceptions proved to be misleading as it squeaked through.
Just minutes after Hedman's goal, Alex Killorn hooked Vincent Lecavalier on a scoring chance, leading to a power play. Giroux botched a powerplay setup, and after that gaffe, Hedman led a two-on-one break with Ondrej Palat.
Hedman's initial shot bounced right onto Palat's stick off of Emery. Palat stashed his fourth goal of the season in easy fashion to give the Lightning a critical two-goal lead. Perhaps said lack of difficulty came from Flyers backcheckers Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek completely giving up on the play, gliding with an impeccable view of the crucial tally.
Midway through the third period, Hedman scored his second goal of the game, accruing his third point of the night on a 5-on-3 power play. Scott Hartnell and Nicklas Grossmann committed back-to-back minor infractions. Hedman pounced on a loose puck in the slot, whacking it by Emery to make it 3-0.
"I don't think we competed hard enough in the battles tonight." head coach Craig Berube said. "[The Lightning] come hard with the pressure on the forecheck, and we didn't handle it."
"You gotta handle adversity better than we do right now."
It looked hopeless, as the Flyers coasted around the ice for 58 minutes. Then, something completely ludicrous happened.
Two goals in 40 seconds late in the third period led a crazy comeback. Lecavalier blasted a Brayden Schenn cross-box feed past starter Anders Lindback to cut the lead to two. Just moments later, Mark Streit tallied his first goal as a Flyer on a one-timer through traffic, cutting the lead to one.
Those two goals in rapid succession proved to be very representative of Lindback's season. With league basement numbers like a 3.47 goals against average and a .872 save percentage, his 58 minute shutout seemed too good to be true.
Lindback got the nod after incumbent starter Ben Bishop, on a hot streak, hurt his hand in practice Wednesday morning.
Even through all of the insanity, that two-goal splash proved to be too little, much too late. Lecavalier mishandled a Streit pass at the offensive blue line, and Tyler Johnson pounced on the loose puck, rushed the entire sheet, and slammed home the dagger.
"There's no excuse for not being motivated," Emery said. "It's disappointing to come out like we did."
On nights like these, the "what-if" scoring chances come straight ot the forefront.
Wayne Simmonds' breakaway in the first period fizzled after Hedman hooked him, leading to a penalty shot. Simmonds nonchalantly deked backhand on his chance, and Lindback's long, outstretched leg pad denied him.
"He's a big goalie," Simmonds said of Lindback. "I didn't get [the puck] up as much as I wanted to, and he made a good save."
Schenn also had a tremendous opportunity, but a phantom whistle prevented that scoring chance from materializing. No explanation was given for said whistle.
For two straight games, the Flyers went into the third period down 2-0. A team that seemed so good at coming back in years past came up just short in those two consecutive efforts.
"It's unforuntate we couldn't get any points out of this one," Simmonds said.
What seems like a city's current fascination with believing being .500 is a good thing, the Flyers will drop to below that hallowed mark as a result of this loss, and will look to try and rebound in short order. They will have to do that while being away from Philadelphia for six of the next seven games.
In a way, the Flyers will need to wake up both figuratively and literally for their next opponent, the Winnipeg Jets. Not only to stem the tide of a two-game losing streak, but to actually wake up for a rather rare 11:30 a.m. start on Black Friday.
Set your alarms.