Game 35: Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 5-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,204 tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"Anybody play defense here?" - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, addressing the media after the game

So let's see: if a team that has struggled all season long defensively loses their top two defenders (who would ideally be slotted no higher than the #3 and #4 positions anyway) mid-way through a game against the second best offensive team in the league, and gets outshot 2-to-1 (this, after an opening period where they were outshot more than 4-to-1), what logically would happen next?

If you said, "they'd never trail and would eventually win by four goals", you're tonight's lucky winner and should probably seek immediate psychiatric help.

Philadelphia dictated play early on, maintaining near-constant pressure in the Lightning zone and yes, re-visiting...briefly...the infamous stall defense offense employed during their last visit to the Forum back on November 9th, a game the Lightning won 2-1 in overtime. It took almost 10 minutes for the Lightning to register two shots, but the second one opened the scoring for when Bruno Gervais squeaked one past Flyers netminder Ilya Bryzgalov at 9:34 with a helper from Adam Hall.

The way the game was going, the only surprise in Philadelphia tying it up late in the period was that they weren't already ahead by three goals. But Scott Hartnell tallied the Flyers first and only goal at 18:14 with assists from Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr.

Outshot 17-4, the Bolts had goalie Mathieu Garon to thank as they headed into the intermission tied at one.

Already having their hands full, more bad news came Tampa Bay's way when defenseman Victor Hedman left with an upper body injury. He did not return and his status at this time is unknown.

In spite of how bleak everything looked at that moment, Steven Stamkos put the Bolts back out in front with a backhander at 7:25 of the second, the team's fifth shot of the game. Brett Clark and Ryan Malone provided assistance,

Steve Downie doubled the lead at 11:41 when he scored on assists from Teddy Purcell and Pavel Kubina immediately after the Lightning's first power play of the game expired.

Things got chippy as Eric Brewer fought Wayne Simmonds. Brewer was cut during the fight and also left the game, dropping the Lightning to four dressed defensemen. Forward James Wyman was pressed into emergency duty on defense due to the shortage.

"He (Wyman) was there. I sent him back there. I had him in the American League in Hamilton and the year before I had him he was a defenseman and we had him as a forward the year after. So I knew he was ready to go." - Boucher

Then Ryan Malone exchanged unpleasantries with Hartnell, with each receiving 10 minute misconduct penalties for their trouble. What exactly happened there is apparently a mystery that will forever go unsolved.

"I think he was just standing too close to the bench. I don't know what happened. He was just...um...close to our bench and...Yeah. I don't know what happened." - Malone
"Gee, I just don't know." - Boucher

Okay then.

Stamkos widened the gap to 4-1 at 18:45, on a powerplay goal (with MaximeTalbot in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct) with help from Downie and Martin St. Louis. With that goal, Stamkos tied New York's Marian Gaborik for the league lead with 22.

The Lightning were strong through the period. After allowing 17 shots in the first period, they held the Flyers to just three during the second.

So with the Lightning's tendency to sometimes come out and play tentatively with a lead, as well as seemingly disappear for whole periods at a time during games, it would be hard to blame fans for being a little uneasy as the third period began, even with a three goal lead. But the Lightning didn't fall into any of the bad habits that have held them back this season. They were outshot 12-4 but Garon kept the puck out of the net and Vincent Lecavalier put the final nail in the coffin on a give-and-go from St. Louis at the 19:00 mark.

"Looked like we frustrated them a little bit and it probably wasnt the prettiest game but we'll take the win and hopefully it's the start of something good." - Stamkos

The Lightning homestand continues Thursday when they host the Montreal Canadiens.

Game notes:

  • The Lightning have picked up points in four of their last five games but have only won four of the 11 games they've played this month.
  • This was only the fourth time in their last 12 games that Philadelphia has been held to less than three goals
  • Gervais' goal was his third of the season, which matches his career high for a season. It was also his first goal and first point registered at home this season.
  • Stamkos has six goals and nine total points in his last six games.
  • Brewer's fight was only the second by a Lightning defenseman this season. Previously, Pavel Kubina fought on December 12 in a game against the New Jersey Devils.
  • The Lightning are now 12-3-1 in games when they score at least three goals.
  • The Lightning honored Richard Cadogan as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period. Cadogan, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will contribute the money to his charity of choice, Guardian Ad Litem. Serving as a voice for children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected throughout the past decade, Cadogan has selflessly given his time as a Guardian Ad Litem full-time volunteer for the past 11 years. Of over 60 cases handled while with the organization, Cadogan has been responsible for reuniting 19 children with their biological parents and has also assisted in finding loving, adoptive parents for 26 others. Without Cadogan’s help, these children would have had no one to advocate in their best interests, and as a result, be confined to foster care. A retired, disabled United States Army veteran who served his country with distinction for 23 years, Cadogan is no stranger to helping others within the community. He previously volunteered with the Black on Black Crime Prevention Program as a mentor to children who had been referred by the Court or the Juvenile Justice System. Believing that the mentoring of children alone was not enough, he volunteered as an Assistant Facilitator at the Urban League to teach parenting classes to adults who had their children removed by the State.
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