Lightning Strikes in Tampa

            TB goalPicture Courtesy of NHL.com

 

After a blowout loss on Thursday to the Carolina Hurricanes (29-25-11), the Philadelphia Flyers (34-20-11) look to get back on the winning side of things as they take on the top team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-17-4). Today, the Flyers look to figure their offense out as they’ve only scored 1 goal in two games. The Lightning have to top offense in the NHL so, the Flyers needed a game plan to keep them in check. The starting goaltenders for the day were Petr Mrazek, for the Flyers, and Vezina candidate Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Lightning.

The start of the game needed to be pedal to the metal for the Flyers and they got off to a great start with a little help from the Lightning. At the 6:22 mark, Andrei Vasilevskiy tripped Taylor Leier to send the Flyers to the first powerplay of the game. Then with a 1:15 left in the powerplay Claude Giroux passed the puck to Nolan Patrick (10) who tipped the puck into the net to give the Flyers the 1-0 lead. Giroux (54) and Jakub Voracek (57) got the assists. Then, Giroux was called for a slashing penalty against Yanni Gourde to send the Lightning on their first powerplay of the game. 1:08 after the Flyers goal, the Lightning set up in the Flyers zone and Steven Stamkos took a slap shot a put it passed Mrazek for his 26th goal of the year and on the powerplay. Victor Hedman (37) and Nikita Kucherov (50) had the assists on the goal. The game tied 1-1, it was non-stop after that. 14:30 into the period the Lightning turned the puck over to Voracek who shot the puck, got the rebound, shot again and scored his 14th goal of the year. Nolan Patrick (10) caused the turnover and got the lone assist on the play taking back the lead 2-1. The Flyers didn’t stop there. With a 1:53 left in the period, the Flyers were charging into the Lightning zone and Robert Hagg (3) went to the middle of the ice, took a wrist shot and scored to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead. Scott Laughton (9) and Ivan Provorov (19) got the helpers on the goal. The shot total at the end of the period was 14-6 in favor of the Flyers.

The Flyers looked to continue the offensive power that they had in the 1st period, but it didn’t start off that way. 5:57 into the period, Victor Hedman took a shot from the corner and it went off Valtteri Filppula and into the net for Hedman’s 10th goal of the season. It was an unfortunate bounce for the Flyers. Stamkos (48) and Kucherov (51) got the assists to cut the lead to 3-2. Trying to hold onto the lead, the Lightning had the momentum and they were riding it. The puck bounced off the wall and onto the stick of Dan Girardi who took a slapshot and scored for his 4th of the season and his first time against the Flyers in his career. Stamkos (49) and Hedman (38) got the assists on the goal to tie the game at 3-3. Shortly after, there was a delayed call against the Lightning and the Flyers had possession in the offensive zone. Jori Lehtera danced around a couple players and took a simple wrist shot with traffic in front and scored his 2nd goal of the year. Jordan Weal (10) and Filppula (18) got the assists to help put the Flyers up 4-3. The period ended with a shot total of 11-10 in favor of the Flyers.

The 3rd period started off once again in the Flyers favor. There was a faceoff in the Lightning zone and the Flyers won the faceoff. The puck was dropped back to Provorov who walked towards the net, shot the puck and scored his 12th of the season to put the Flyers up 5-3. Filppula (19) had the only assist on the goal by winning the faceoff. After the early goal the game shifted towards the Lightning. At 4:23 into the period the Lightning went into the Flyers zone shot the puck, but Mrazek saved it and let up a rebound. J.T. Miller (14) took the rebound and scored his first as a Lightning. Gourde (28) and Brayden Point (30) got the assists and the goal once again cutting the lead 5-4. It was all Lightning for most of this period. At 7:38 into the period the Lightning had a two-on-one and Stamkos was there to bury the puck for his second of the night and his 27th of the year. Kucherov (52) and Alex Killorn (27) got the assists to help tie the game 5-5, as the Flyers watched their two-goal lead go away. But, it didn’t stop there. The Lightning once again had the puck in the Flyers zone and Hedman (11) came in, took a slapshot and it went through the 5-hole of Mrazek to give the Lightning their first lead of the game at 6-5. Stamkos (50) had the only helper on the play. It was the Lightning’s 3rd goal on 5 shots. With time winding down the Flyers were in desperate need of a goal to tie the game and force it to overtime, the puck was in the Lightning zone and the Flyers had control. Voracek went to pass the puck across ice and it hit a Lightning player who was tangled up with Provorov. Provorov dove to hit the puck to Couturier who then passed it to Giroux and he put the puck in the net for his 23rd goal of the year. Couturier (34) and Provorov (20) got the assists to tie the game up at 6-6. It was the 5th time the game was tied. The period ended with a shot total of 15-14 in favor of the Lightning.

The game being tied at 6 with regulation not being enough brought it to overtime. The Flyers have a record of 8-5 and the Lightning’s record is 5-2 in overtime period this season. The OT period saw an early penalty on Kucherov to give the Flyers a 4-on-3 powerplay. After the, the Flyers dominated most of the period, but Vasilevskiy answered everything the Flyers threw at him. At the end of the period the Lightning managed a couple shots, but to no prevail. The period ended with a tied 4-4 shot total which kind of followed the theme of the game today. The game shot total was 43-35 in favor of the Flyers.

When the overtime period wasn’t enough it was up to the shootout to determine who got the all-important 2nd point of the game. Going into the shootout the Flyers had a record of 2-5 and the Lightning had a 4-2 record. The results of the shootout are as follows:

Round 1:

TBL: Cory Conacher- SAVE

PHI: Sean Couturier- SAVE

Round 2:

TBL: Brayden Point- GOAL

PHI: Nolan Patrick- SAVE

Round 3:

TBL: Steven Stamkos- GOAL

Stamkos scored the game winner in the shootout capping off his 1st career 5-point game to give the Lightning a 7-6 win over the Flyers. This was the 3rd and final meeting between the two teams before the playoffs start.

The Flyers next game is tomorrow at 3pm against the Florida Panthers (31-25-6). It is the 3rd and final meeting between the two teams. The first game was back in October where the Flyers won 5-1 and the second game was in December where the Panther won 3-2. This 3rd game will decide the season series between the two. Having gone to a shootout today it gave the Flyers 1 point to put them 3 points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins (36-25-4) and tied for 1st place with the Washington Capitals (36-21-7) with 79 points apiece. The Flyers look to the New York Islanders (29-29-7) who play the Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs (39-20-7) who play the Capitals for some help. They need both the Capitals and Penguins to lose tonight to help their case for 1st place in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers need a win in Florida tomorrow as the look to climb the ladder in the standings. Can they get the help from the Leafs and Islanders? Will they drop 3 in a row to the Panthers tomorrow? Can they get back on the winning side? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor

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