Tortorella ejected as Lightning shut out Flyers

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Flyers' John Tortorella
Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella, left, yells at referee Brad Meier (34) after being kicked out the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)


This was, without a doubt, the worst performance of the season for the Philadelphia Flyers (33-24-8). Everything got out of hand in the first ten minutes of regulation.

We all know how intense John Tortorella can be. On the night when the Tampa Bay Lightning (34-25-6) celebrated their 2004 Stanley Cup championship, Tortorella was ejected from the bench. The irony is Tortorella coached the 2004 Lightning, and that team defeated the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals to hoist the Stanley Cup. He took offense to a call against Ronnie Attard before pulling Sam Ersson. His ejection didn’t come without protest:

You don’t need to be a professional lip reader to know what Tortorella said before he departed. After he left the bench, Brad Shaw and Rocky Thompson split coaching duties. Felix Sandstrom reported to the crease after Ersson was pulled.

“I think he was just trying to make a point that we felt like we might not been getting our fair shake. It’s an emotional game at times and we all get elevated blood pressure. It’s just part of the game.”

Brad Shaw; 3/9/2024

Of course, it wasn’t just the officiating that frustrated Tortorella. There was plenty to be frustrated about leading up to his ejection. Victor Hedman uncorked a wrist shot past Ersson, 1-0, which stood as the game-winner. Nicholas Paul, Conor Sheary, and Brayden Point scored within five minutes to jump a 1-0 lead to 4-0.

“We’re usually a pretty decisive team. We’re usually setting the tone and playing a specific game. I thought we let them get to their game really quickly. A couple powerplay goals against, which we haven’t given up a lot of lately, and I think that put us on our heels a little bit even more, and we just never seemed to get our footing.”

Brad Shaw; 3/9/2024

Paul and Point scored on the powerplay with Attard in the penalty box. Exit Ersson and Tortorella. Enter Sandstrom.

Something to be admired about Philadelphia is how they continued to compete. Yes, these are professional players, but they didn’t phone it in the rest of the night. Nicolas Deslauriers, Sean Couturier, and Cam Atkinson all got into a fight or scrum with Tampa Bay. They were combative to steal momentum, and when that didn’t work, they kept swinging.

Andrei Vasilevskiy saved a high-danger chance from Garnet Hathaway in the second period, which seemed like the first opportunity at a goal for the Flyers. To this moment, it felt as if Philadelphia began to find a way to defend the Lightning, but Steven Stamkos made a terrific pass to Anthony Duclair for a tip-in, 5-0. Stamkos outskated Marc Staal to a fleeting puck, but Sandstrom made an initial play to remove the play from the crease. The defensive zone wasn’t cleared, and Duclair rushed to the goalpost in position for the tip drill. All that stood between Tampa Bay and two points was the third period.

The Lightning added two more goals. Hedman scored his second of the game, and Brandon Hagel put the exclamation point on this contest.

“I will guarantee you that nobody in that locker room is feeling good about anything we did tonight. I expect a great effort Tuesday and going forward. This is one that we eat our humble pie, [and] we learn our lessons, [and] we move on, and get prepared for the next game. It’s two points. We didn’t play close to how we like to play, and how we have to play at this time of [the] year.”

Brad Shaw; 3/9/2024

Tampa Bay shut out the Flyers with emphasis, 7-0.

Up Next

Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday at 7pm.

(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)