The trade deadline is officially in the rear-view mirror and the stretch run of the 2017-2018 season has officially begun. The Flyers are coming off of an uninspiring performance at home on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Rebounding was not going to be an easy task on the road for two games in Florida. The first of the two road games was Saturday afternoon between the Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are an extremely talented team that many consider to be the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay, particularly at Amalie Arena, has not been a favorable match-up for the Flyers is recent seasons.
The first ten minutes of the game were spent with both teams feeling each other out early and both teams trading powerplay goals. Nolan Patrick struck first, scoring his 10th goal of the season off of a beautiful no-look pass from Claude Giroux. Not to be outdone Steven Stamkos would answer one minute and eight seconds later with a powerplay goal to tie the game 1-1. The goal was the 26th of the season for Stamkos and his 20th career goal against the Flyers. The Flyers then took control of the play in the second half of the first period. Jake Voracek scored his 14th goal of the season followed by Robert Hagg with his 3rd goal of the season. The goals were separated by about three and a half minutes and gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead after the first period.
The Flyers started the second period and immediately applied pressure that resulted in the Lightning taking a penalty. However they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity and Tampa Bay seemed to gain momentum. The Lightning are the best second period team in the NHL and they began to flex their muscle. Victor Hedman scored his 10th goal of the season off of a deflection in front of Mrazek at 5:57 of the period. The Flyers sagging defense and sloppy play continued as Dan Girardi scored his 4th goal of the season almost seven minutes later. With the game tied 3-3 and on the road against the best team in the NHL, the Flyers needed to respond. The Flyers responded late in the second period when Jori Lehtera almost blindly threw the puck on net. The puck had eyes and managed to sneak its way past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Lehtera scored his 2nd goal of the season and the Flyers escaped with a 4-3 lead after two periods.
The Flyers were able to take advantage of an early opportunity that they weren’t able to in the second period. Ivan Provorov scored his 12th goal of the season at 1:06 of the third period. Provorov’s goal would give the Flyers a short-lived 5-3 lead. From that point forward the Tampa Bay Lightning took their game to another level by scoring three consecutive goals. J.T. Miller scored his 14th goal of the season one minute and seventeen seconds later to cut the lead to 5-4. The Flyers were given another powerplay but were unable to score and the Lightning seized their opportunity. Less than a minute after killing off the penalty, Steven Stamkos scored his second goal of the game, his 27th of the season, and 21st career goal against the Flyers. Less than three minutes later Victor Hedman scored his second goal of the game, 11th of the season, to give the Lightning their first lead of the game at 6-5. Once again facing adversity the Flyers needed to respond and they did. Flyers captain Claude Giroux would score his 23rd goal of the season with just under 3 minutes left in the game. The Giroux goal tied the game 6-6 and sent the game into overtime.
The Flyers got a huge break early in the overtime period when Nikita Kucherov was penalized for hooking. The Flyers were unable to score on the 4-on-3 powerplay due largely to a couple of outstanding saves on Shayne Gostisbehere by Andrei Vasilevskiy. This game, between two teams heading towards the playoffs, was destined to be decided in the shootout.
Cory Conacher (Lightning) – SAVE by Mrazek
Sean Couturier (Flyers) – SAVE by Vasilevskiy
Brayden Point (Lightning) – GOAL
Nolan Patrick (Flyers) – SAVE by Vasilevskiy
Steven Stamkos (Lightning) – GOAL
The Flyers lose the shootout 2-0 and the game 7-6 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This game was not a masterpiece but the Flyers showed that they are a resilient team. The Lightning were supposed to be a litmus test for the Flyers. Not only did the Flyers come out of this game with a point and a share of first place in the Metropolitan Division; they also proved capable of competing with the elite teams in the NHL.
A Look at the Numbers
The Flyers streak of 7 consecutive road wins comes to an end 1 shy of tying the team record
Flyers are 6-10-2 in their last 18 games vs. the Lightning including 2-6-2 in their last 10 games at Amalie Arena
Claude Giroux had a goal and an assist and now has 32 points (4G 28A) in 32 career games vs. the Lightning
Claude Giroux passes Tim Kerr for 6th on the Flyers all-time scoring list (652 points). He is 7 points behind Eric Lindros for 5th
Ivan Provorov had a goal and 2 assists and now has 6 points (2G 4A) in 6 career games vs. the Lightning
Nolan Patrick scored his 10th goal of the season and is the 11th Flyers player to have ten or more goals this season
My Three Stars
- Steven Stamkos 2G 3A 5P +2 7SOG 19:06 TOI
2. Victor Hedman 2G 2A 4P +1 4SOG 28:11 TOI
3. Ivan Provorov 1G 2A 3P +2 5SOG 23:49 TOI
The Flyers stay on the road and play the Florida Panthers tomorrow (Sunday, March 4). Broadcast: NBCSP & 97.5 The Fanatic at 3PM
The Flyers are 1-1 vs. The Panthers this season, winning 5-1 at home on October 17th and losing 3-2 at Florida on December 28th. The Flyers are 9-5-3 in their last 17 games vs. the Panthers and 3-4-1 in their last 8 games at BB&T Center.
Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports