Bigger, better, faster, stronger: Flyers roll past Tampa Bay

on January 7, 2017 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
on January 7, 2017 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The ten game win streak solicited the Flyers as a team not only getting to the playoffs, but a team that could possibly win a round. It’s in distant memory, and after losing their last five consecutive games they lost their identity. Dave Hakstol changed the Flyers top three lines before the game with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Matt Read replaced Jake Voracek on the top line, and Voracek slid to the second line centered by Sean Couturier. Dale Weise was on the third line with Wayne Simmonds, and it was centered by Brayden Schenn. The Tampa Bay  Lightning came into the tilt with the 25th ranked defense, and the Flyers looked to exploit that. The Flyers were energized and strong from the start, and it lead to the 4-2 victory snapping their five game losing streak.

The Flyers had their legs moving early with three shots in the first four minutes. They had two quality chances within that time frame. One by Travis Konecny who hit the post coming down the edge of the right side of the ice. The second was an Ivan Porovorov blast from the point that was redirected from Matt Read, with Andrei Vasileskiy making a nice pad save.

One minute later after the nice Vasileskiy pad save, the Flyers had a defensive breakdown. This lead to an odd man rush a 2 on 1 for the Lightning. Vladislav Namestnikov made a nice pass to Nikita Kucherov, and he deposited the puck in the net for his 16th goal of the year. This made the score 1-0 Lightning.

With 9:06 remaining in the first Vladislav Namestnikov hooked Jake Voracek for the first penalty of the game. Nice puck movement on the power play led to three quality scoring chances, but Vasileskiy had all the answers in making five saves keeping the score 1-0.

As the period wore on, the Flyers appeared to be more determined and faster on the pucks than the Lightning. They controlled the majority of the play through the first, but found themselves trailing 1-0. Vasileskiy made 14 saves as the Flyers out shot the Lightning in the first 14-5. The Flyers also won 61% of faceoffs to the Lightnings 39%.

Michael Neuvirth making his first start in 24 games due to a knee injury was solid, but rarely tested. The first period ended 1-0 in favor of Tampa Bay.

The Flyers started the second period, the same way they ended the first period. A turnover from the Lightning at 18:50 led to an odd man rush for the Flyers.

Jake Voracek passed the puck over to Travis Konecny who was coming down the edge on right side. He made no mistake and deposited the puck behind Vasilesky for his 8th of the year, and evening the score at 1.

At 11:18 Ivan Provorov took a wrist shot from the point that Vasileskiy easily turned aside. Sean Couturier got the juicy rebound, and scored his 7th of the year for a 2-1 Flyers lead.

A Tampa Bay turnover 1 minute later led to a Nick Schultz breakaway, but Vasileskiy made the save. Schultz did not give up on the play,  and tracked down the puck in the corner. He then made a nice pass to Claude Giroux, who threaded a pass over to the cutting Michael Raffl. Raffl blasted the puck past Vasileskiy for his 8th of the year, and 3-1 Flyers lead.

Chris Vandevelde took a holding penalty with 5:18 remaining in the period. The Flyers killed it off not allowing a shot on the power play. However, as the power play ended Alex Killorn scored off a rebound making it 3-2 Flyers.

With 2:10 remaining in the second period, a shot by Brayden Schenn went wide behind the net. Radko Gudas who was pinching in from the point, was able to track down the puck. He wrapped the puck around the other side of the net behind Vasileskiy for his 2nd goal of the year. This made the score 4-2, and the 2nd period ended that way.

Michael Neuvirth was tested a little more this period, but did a nice job turning aside 9 shots. The Flyers out shot Tampa Bay 16-9 in the 2nd period, and 30-16 for the game thus far. The Flyers also continued to win the face off total 58% to 42%.

Tampa Bay to no surprise came out flying in the third period, as they seemed to finally find their legs. Neuvirth was tested early and made a nice pad save leaning against the post, as Tampa’s Ondrej Palat tried ramming home the puck.

At 15:08 Matt Read took a slashing penalty, after Neuvirth made a nice breakaway save on Tampa’s Namestnikov. The Flyers yet again did not allow a single shot on that ensuing power play.

With 12:25 remaining in the third period, Luke Witkowski took an interference penalty against Wayne Simmonds. The Flyers had good puck movement on the ensuing power play, but Vasileskiy turned aside the three shots fired at him.

Tampa Bay pulled the goaltender with 2:30 left in the third, but could not put it past Neuvirth. Neuvirth made five strong saves to close the game, to preserve the Flyers 4-2 win.

The Flyers out shot Tampa Bay for the game 44-26, and won the face off battle 57% to 43%. The Flyers defense were phenomenal this game limiting quality scoring chances for Tampa Bay. It earned them a much needed two points against a team chasing them for the last wild card spot, and it finallllllllllly ended their five game losing skid.

Dave Hakstol deserves a ton of credit. He changed up his top three lines in a gutsy move to find more scoring. It seemed to energize the Flyers. The Flyers look to continue their winning ways tomorrow at 5 pm, with a tilt against a divisional foe the Columbus Blue Jackets.


Mandatory Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images