The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 to close out a quick two-game road trip. Five different players scored all five goals, but Nikita Kucherov wasn’t one of them as he was held pointless and prevented from reaching the 100-point mark. Louis Domingue picked up his team record 11th consecutive win.
Before the game, we got lots of news. Victor Hedman didn’t play. That wasn’t a surprise as he missed the second half of the previous game. That necessitated the recall of Jan Rutta from Syracuse and to make that possible, Mathieu Joseph had to go back to Syracuse. Look for Rutta and Joseph to switch places again when Hedman is healthy.
What was unexpected was Brayden Point being a healthy scratch after he missed a team meeting. This has long been a policy of head coach Jon Cooper and Point should be back in the lineup on Thursday with no further consequences.
Despite being on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lightning starting strong in this game unlike the previous one against Columbus. Tampa immediately put pressure on the Flyers from the opening puck drop. A minute into the game, Cedric Paquette got a look at a wide open net on a rebound from Ryan Callahan but couldn’t finish.
Shortly after, Mikhail Sergachev made up for Paquette’s miss by beating Carter Hart short side to give the Lightning the lead. The defender’s shot changed direction deflecting off of Shayne Gostisbehere’s skate and snuck past Hart.
About a minute after the goal, the Lightning went on the power play for the first time and created several chances to extend the lead. Kucherov fed one of his patented passes cross-ice to Stamkos. Tyler Johnson had two good looks in the slot filling in for Point. One was on a pass from Kucherov and the other on a rebound from a Kucherov shot. But neither Stamkos nor Johnson finished their chances.
After the penalty, the Lightning continued to control the game keeping the puck in the Philadelphia end of the ice. Eventually, they cashed in another chance when Alex Killorn banged in a rebound. The play started with Adam Erne firing a shot from high in the zone. Anthony Cirelli deflected it off the post and Killorn put it in the back of the net beating Andrew MacDonald in a puck battle at the side of the net.
Just past 10 minutes in the period, JT Miller added another to the lead making it 3-0 and chased Hart from the game in favor of Brian Elliott. Miller did all the work himself picking Ivan Provorov’s pocket in the defensive zone and carrying the puck up the right side before firing a shot past the young Philadelphia goaltender.
Following the third goal, Philly got back into the game a little more. Or, at least, the game wasn’t so one-sided. The Flyers got some zone time and some decent looks but Domingue was solid as he has been all season.
With a minute left in the period, Erne took a hooking penalty. The Flyers weren’t able to do anything with the first minute of the power play and entering intermission, the Lightning had a comfortable lead in both shots and expected goals.
After dominating the first period, the Lightning looked very much like a team on the second half of a back to back without two of its best players in the second period. They started by successfully killing the remainder of the penalty. But even after the penalty, the Flyers continued to control the puck and put pressure on Tampa.
That led to another Flyers power play five minutes into the period. Once again, the Lightning penalty killers did their jobs and limited dangerous chances. And once again, they killed the penalty but the puck continued to stay in the Tampa zone.
By this point in the period, the fatigue for the Lightning was obvious. They were much slower through the neutral zone than they were earlier in the game. They settled for more dump-and-chase and seemed content to play structured defense and bend but not break in front of Domingue.
With five minutes left in the period, Domingue put his stamp on the game with a dynamite sequence. I’m not sure how many saves he actually makes in this stretch aside from the final one but it sure is pretty.
With three minutes left in the period, the Lightning took ANOTHER penalty putting the pressure on the penalty killers again. And again, they were up to the task. By the end of the power play, the Flyers were visibly frustrated with their inability to generate good chances.
At the end of the period, the Lightning still led in shots and expected goals, which is impressive considering how much time they spent killing penalties.
The third period was the most eventful of the game with plenty of penalties, goals, and scrums. It started quickly with Paquette getting another golden chance. This time from Martel. But again, he couldn’t hit the net.
A minute into the period, the Flyers answered with a chance of their own and Oskar Lindblom buried it. He took a pass from Sean Couturier and deflected in from the doorstep past Domingue. The Lightning’s defense was too soft all around on the play. First, they gave Couturier too much space to skate and then, they failed to pick up Lindblom and gave him a clean tip.
After the Philly goal, the parade to the box from the second period resumed. Johnson and Wayne Simmonds went for matching minors less than three minutes into the period. Neither team was able to score at 4-on-4.
Simmonds went again six minutes into the period. The Lightning’s first unit created some good looks but the second unit was the one to score. Alex Killorn started it by firing a shot that hit the top of Elliot’s stick and knocked it out of his hand. Yanni Gourde took advantage shortly after beating the Philly goalie short side as Elliot struggled to seal his post without his stick.
With just under 12 minutes left, Danick Martel got a breakaway chance. He fired a nice shot on the rush but couldn’t beat Elliot. Even though he didn’t score, he still had a nice game against his former team making several good plays.
The Flyers scored the next goal cutting the lead to 4-2. Travis Konecny combined with Couturier on a give and go. Domingue got a piece of Couturier’s final pass back across the slot but he kicked it right to Konecny who didn’t miss.
After the second goal, the game started to heat up with both teams playing more physical. JT Miller and Claude Giroux got into it off the faceoff at center ice leading to a short scrum. After the faceoff, both teams seemed more intent on landing hits than scoring goals.
The Flyers paid the price as Phil Varone took a penalty. And a minute later, Radko Gudas joined him in the box giving the Lightning over a minute of 5-on-3. The Bolts have been great in that situation all year but they weren’t able to score tonight as the Flyers killed off all the penalties. Kucherov spent the entire power play time on the ice as the coaches looked be trying to get him his 100th point but it wasn’t meant to be.
With just over a minute left in the game, the Flyers pulled Elliott. They got set up at 6-on-5 and after creating a scrum in front of the net, forced the puck over the line. The officials immediately waived off the goal saying Philly had interfered with Domingue. The Flyers challenged but replay confirmed that Simmonds had shoved Domingue across the goal line.
On the ensuing faceoff, Ryan McDonagh got the puck and sent it to the other end of the ice for an empty netter to seal the 5-2 win.
At the end of the game, shots were even but the Lightning led in expected goals.
For a second night of a back-to-back, this was a strong performance by the Lightning. They did enough in the first period alone to win the game and added to the lead in the third to keep the pressure off of Domingue.
The depth players stepped up to do the scoring tonight, which was a change from last night where the stars did all the heavy lifting. Domingue did his thing extending his franchise record winning streak.
The Bolts will be in action next on Thursday against the Sabres back at home. Point should be back in the lineup. Hedman could be but they might keep up him out one more game since they have a three-day break following that game.