Game 15: Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 2-1 in overtime tonight in front of a sellout crowd of 19,204 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

In what ended as the Lightning's third straight comeback win (two in overtime, one via shootout), the visiting Flyers started out attacking Lightning coach Guy Boucher's vaunted 1-3-1 system by...not attacking it. Spending several minutes, including one stretch of 50 seconds, simply holding the puck motionless in their own defensive zone (earning at least one warning for not moving the puck in the process), they waited for the Lightning to get impatient and bite on the forecheck with the hope of leaving a Philadelphia forward uncovered. The only problem with that strategy is the Lightning didn't bite.

Little of what followed was expected from a matchup pitting the NHL's top scoring team against a Lightning squad that has struggled defensively in most games this season and were without two of their top three defenders (Mattias Ohlund and Victor Hedman, as well as forward Ryan Malone).

The first period ended in a 0-0 tie with the Lightning taking seven shots to the Flyers' six and a whole lot of standing around.

In the second, the Flyers got on the board first on a power play goal by Scott Hartnell with assists from Jakub Voracek and Kimmo Timonen at 9:34. The period ended 1-0, Princeton Philadelphia.

The third period was more free-wheeling and the Lightning answered with a power play goal of their own from Marc-Andre Bergeron with help from Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier at 7:41. The period ended with the score tied at one.

Brett Connolly could have given the Lightning the lead in the third but failed to convert on a couple of opportunities crashing the net. He redeemed himself in the extra period by ending the game at 2:30 in overtime, crashing the net again, getting assists from Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina.

Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson was solid in net once again, stopping 14 of the 15 shots he faced.

With the win, the Lightning improve to 8-5-2 (18 points) and are in second place in the Southeast Division.

The big question is whether this game signifies an opponent making some kind of statement on Boucher's system, as was strongly suggested by commentators on the national television broadcast, or merely a tactic employed to win a game. There's certain to be lots of discussion among those in the hockey community about it and it will be interesting to see if other teams follow suit and/or if the league itself weighs in on the matter one way or another.

"Whats happening in this (Philadelphia) (Tampa Bay) game that everyones talking about. The boys are out for dinner and wondering?" - Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs, via Twitter

The Lightning are in action again on Saturday, November 12th, when they'll travel to St. Louis to take on the Blues.

Game notes:

  • Tonight was Martin St. Louis's 800th game as a member of the Lightning.
  • It was also his 486th consecutive game played, the 4th longest current streak in the NHL.
  • Capt. Greg Amira performed the ceremonial puck drop before the game. He was working on the 73rd floor of the World Trade Center when it was attacked on 9/11 and remained in the building afterward in an attempt to rescue survivors. He was buried in the rubble when the building collapsed and was disabled as a result. In spite of that, he continued to serve in the military and was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal among other honors for his service during Operation Iraqui Freedom.
  • The Lightning have given up the first goal of the game eight times so far this season.
  • This was the seventh time this season the Lightning have trailed going into the third period.
  • Bergeron now leads all NHL defenders with 16 points this season.
  • Tonight's Lightning Community Hero was Tampa native and former professional basketball player Ricky Gallon. Gallon mentors area youths who have fallen under the negative influence of drugs and crime. Exposed to such vices himself as a child, Gallon recognized the importance of giving back and providing a good environment for kids. Today, after 10 years of service to the Boys & Girls Club, Gallon holds the position of Director of Community Relations with that organization. /