On Saturday afternoon the Tampa Bay Lightning handed the Philadelphia Flyers their first home loss in over two months. The Flyers had won 10 straight home games dating back to their 3-0 loss to New Jersey on November 7th. The Flyers lost 6-3.
The Flyers came out slow in the first period. The Lightning were swarming them at every turn and controlled play for the first half of the period. Less than five minutes into the period, Nicklas Grossmann sent an ill-advised pass out of the Flyers zone. The pass was picked off by Alex Killorn who skated into the Flyers zone and scored. The shot deflected off of Mark Streit’s stick. The Flyers fought through some of the early malaise and were able to take control during the second half of the period. The Flyers had a 5on3 opportunity in which they had a plethora of good scoring chances. They went into the first intermission down 1-0, but leading in shots 15-7.
The second period featured some solid play by the Flyers, but the bounces did not go their way. A little over five minutes into the period, Teddy Purcell opened the scoring, giving the Lightning a 2-0 lead. The goal was soft and had the potential to be a momentum killer. However, Jakub Voracek brought the Flyers within one goal less than two minutes later. Having broken his stick in the offensive zone, Voracek was behind the play as it returned to the Flyers end. When Giroux got possession of the puck, he sent Voracek on a breakaway with his new stick and Voracek scored. Unfortunately, Ryan Malone got a goal back less than 45 seconds later. The Flyers were once again down by two goals. A few minutes later, Braydon Coburn and Ryan Malone got into a scrum that led to a Flyers power play. On the man advantage, Claude Giroux took a shot and Wayne Simmonds put in the rebound. Shortly after that play, Jakub Voracek scored one of his best goals of the season. He entered the zone and deked through two defenders and shot the puck five-hole. But, once again, less than a minute later the Lightning responded and took the lead. Finally, with only 57 seconds remaining in the period, Martin St. Louis put a one-timer by Mason to give the Lightning a two goal lead heading into the intermission. The Flyers were still out shooting the Lightning 26-17.
Ray Emery filled in for Steve Mason in the third. He played well, and the Flyers did as a whole, but once again they could not break through. They fired 12 shots on Lindback in the period, some of which were quality chances, but he was up to the task. With just under five minutes remaining, Scott Hartnell laid a big hit on Victor Hedman. Hartnell was given a penalty for an illegal hit to the head. The hit will be debated heavily, I’m sure (I have only seen it in real time, but it looked clean to me), but the ensuing two minute penalty kill sealed the Flyers fate. In the final two minutes of the game, Ryan Malone put home and empty net goal to give the Lightning a 6-3 victory.
-Yes, the Flyers could have played better during a few stretches of this game, but Anders Lindback deserves credit for making 35 saves. Lindback should also thank the cross-bar, which saved him at least three times.
-The Flyers PK unit was impressive once again. They did not allow a goal and have now killed 22 straight penalties.
-Andrej Meszaros registered an assist today and skated for 20:48. He led numerous rushes and seems to be back to 2010-2011 form. It’s nice to see him coming back into form and we can only hope he stays there for the rest of the season.
-Unfortuntely, many other defensemen had a terrible game. Grossmann was a giveaway machine, while both L. Schenn and Streit had their share of mishandled pucks. Concerning Grossmann, Bill Meltzer put it best here.
-Steve Mason had one of his worst games as a Flyer. However, as mentioned above, his defensemen left him out to dry on many occasions. Even so, he could have been much better.
-Besides Meszaros, the Giroux-Voracek duo was one of the best parts of this game. Jake had two goals and Giroux had two assists. Even when they were not scoring, they were putting pressure on their opponents and skating well.