Carter Hart stood toe-to-toe with Andrei Vasilevskiy, but the Philadelphia Flyers fall to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout, 4-3.
Without Kevin Hayes, Patrick Brown, and Ryan Ellis, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Tampa Bay Lightning. On paper, they’re the underdogs. Don’t let that fool you. The Flyers have slain dragons all season.
Alain Vigneault hopes to solve the Tampa Bay Lightning, who haven’t lost in regulation through the last five games. Earlier this week, Philadelphia notched an overtime victory against the Calgary Flames. In solving the Lightning, the Flyers must solve their powerplay woes. An elite defense is magnificent, but it can’t always make up for an underachieving offense, especially with a man advantage.
During the Vigneault era in Philadelphia, the Flyers have yet to defeat Tampa Bay (aside from a glorified round-robin exhibition game). Did he finally get the monkey off of his back?
Out of the gate early, the Philadelphia Flyers surged with energy. Scott Laughton set an early tone, uncorking a slapshot denied by Andrei Vasilevskiy. Though the shot missed, the offense soon followed.
Claude Giroux received a quick pass from Derick Brassard. Brassard recovered a loose puck and had the vision to find Giroux in the offensive zone. Giroux shook Vasilevskiy out of position and potted the first score of the contest. Early on, the Flyers established home-ice momentum.
All was jolly with the way Philadelphia began the game. The fans at the Wells Fargo Center followed with an ovation to Brian Elliott and Oskar Lindblom. Elliott, who teamed with Carter Hart, signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season. Lindblom, reentering the lineup after a healthy scratch designation versus the Calgary Flames, received a warm welcome from the fans on Hockey Fights Cancer night. His line helped make the Flyers’ starting lineup.
Neither team could consistently maintain offensive pressure. Travis Konecny made the Lightning pay, starting from the neutral zone to finish from the slot on a three-on-one rush.
Konecny kept the shot and grew the lead; 2-0.
Beginning the period, the Philadelphia Flyers were on their first penalty kill. Rasmus Ristolainen served a tick-tack minor penalty for interference. Sean Couturier and Carter Hart were incredible throughout the second period on the penalty kill. In three different man-down situations, Hart and Couturier helped the Flyers kill a penalty twice.
Brayden Point was the one who snuck through the slot to score against the Philadelphia penalty kill unit. Travis Sanheim blocked the initial shot from Steven Stamkos, but Stamkos slipped the puck to Point on the finish.
Hart continued to play with confidence throughout the period, including stubborn defensive efforts from Nick Seeler and Sanheim. Seeler blocked a slapshot from the blue line, and Sanheim made a few defensive plays with his stick nearby the post. The Tampa Bay Lightning kept the pressure after cutting the deficit to one.
Mathieu Joseph tied the game after recovering a nearly intercepted pass by Justin Braun. The puck slipped through and was backhanded quickly past Hart. Knotted, 2-2, the Flyers need to find a way to battle back on special teams. They would begin the third period on the powerplay, hoping to steal the Lightning’s technique. Joseph began to serve a penalty with seconds remaining in the second.
Unfortunately for the Philadelphia Flyers, they weren’t able to convert on powerplay chances. Various reiterations of the powerplay units from Alain Vigneault and Michel Therrien aren’t producing.
Justin Braun and Travis Sanheim remained steady on defense. They stayed at home most of the night within the slot. Though they both were within proximity of goals against, Sanheim and Braun played their role in keeping the defense tight. The Flyers continue to play above expectations against top competitors.
Steven Stamkos took a no-angle shot in the closing minutes, scoring what seemed to be the game-winner. Carter Hart, after the game, said his equipment malfunctioned between the pad and toe of his skate, where the puck slid by. In the closing seconds, Claude Giroux said, “anything you can do, I can do better.” Another puck with eyes found twine, tying the game 3-3. We’re going to overtime, and I love overtime hockey!
Travis Konecny and Victor Hedman were the standout skaters for their respective teams in overtime. In hindsight, it’s tough to recall if a whistle blew during the period. Andrei Vasilevskiy and Carter Hart stood toe-to-toe and went save-for-save, forcing a shootout.
The Tampa Bay Lightning only needed two chances to ice the game in a shootout. Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point secured the 4-3 victory. Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux were both denied by Vasilevskiy. When the smoke cleared, the Philadelphia Flyers escaped with a point added to the standings total.
Coming up next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The puck drops at 7pm from the Wells Fargo Center.
Photo Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire