Thanks to a poor start and rust from the All-Star break, the Flyers experienced their 3rd loss on the season to Tampa Bay by a score of 4-0. Teddy Purcell tallied his first career two-goal game scoring Tampa’s first two goals on the night. Poor positional play from the defense and unfortunate bounces resulted in Philadelphia’s early deficit. Both Martin St.Louis and Simon Gagne had two assists on the night while Steve Downie netted a goal late in the first period. Dwayne Roloson recorded the shutout for Tampa tonight. It’s the fourth time all season the Flyers have been shutout. The win extended the Lightning’s winning streak to six and handed the Flyers their second loss within the last four games.
It didn’t take long for the Flyers to find the game’s first deficit. After causing a turnover in the neutral zone, Simon Gagne spun clockwise right in front of the Flyers’ bench passing the puck to Teddy Purcell standing at the blue line. Thanks to Braydon Coburn over pursuing the play, Purcell and Vincent Lecavalier enjoyed a 2-on-1 against Kimmo Timonen. Purcell tapped the puck to Lecavalier who then passed the puck back to Purcell as Timonen dropped to the ice in an attempt to break up the pass. From the lower half of the circles, Purcell let a shot go in the slot that found the inside of the right post as Sergei Bobrovsky sat deep in the crease. Purcell’s ninth goal on the season gave Tampa Bay the one goal lead ninteen seconds into the game.
The early shenanigans didn’t stop there for Philly. Just over a minute later, Gagne let a wrist shot rip from the top right part of the right circle that went wide to Bobrovsky’s left. The puck bounced off the endboards and slid between Bobrovsky’s legs to the top of the crease as Bob was looking towards center ice. Purcell netted his second goal of the night on the lucky bounce as Bobrovsky was unaware of where the puck was. Before the Flyers could realize the All-Star break was over, they found themselves in a two-goal hole to the Southeast power house. The first period woes didn’t stop their for the Flyers as a former teammate hurt them later in the stanza.
Chances came and went for the Flyers over the remainder of the period as strong play from the powerplay unit nearly cut the deficit in half. However, their hardwork didn’t pay off as Steve Downie found the net for his fifth goal on the season extending the Lightning’s lead to 3-0. While entering the zone along the boards to Bobrovsky’s right, Downie changed direction skating to the slot along the top of the left circle allowing a back checking Mike Richards to screen Bob along with Steven Stamkos. After Downie released a weak wrist shot from the slot, the puck would find its way through Bobrovsky’s 5-hole. The remaining five minutes in the period yielded little action, but the struggle that was the opening minutes of the game for Philadelphia ended up being enough for the Lightning.
The second period saw a better effort from the orange and black, but the improvement didn’t translate into goals. Peter Laviolette attempted to shake things up by replacing Bobrovsky with Brian Boucher; he’d save all eleven shots he saw in the period. For the second straight period the Flyers ended up outshooting the Lightning. Despite a brief surge from Tampa near the middle of the period, most of the play was spent in Philly’s offensive zone. The offensive pressure from Philadelphia peaked on both powerplay chances in the period. The powerplay chances stemmed from a hooking call on Simon Gagne and a holding call on Sean Bergenheim. No matter what the Flyers put on net, Roloson had an answer stopping every shot he saw in the period. The deficit remained three as the game entered the final period.
All that came from the third period was a Steven Stamkos goal nearly nine minutes into the period making the lead 4-0. His 39th goal of the season came on a pass from Martin St.Louis, Tampa’s duo that has caused damage to most teams they’ve played this season. This was the only goal Boucher allowed saving fifteen of sixteen shots on the night. Roloson stopped all eleven shots he saw in the period and saved all 38 shots he faced on the night registering his second straight shutout and fourth on the season.
The Flyers lost the game tonight within the first few minutes. Sloppy play early and an unfortunate bounce was the difference in what was an otherwise tight game. The rust of having a week off was seen in tonight’s game as the Flyers were unable to move affectively through the neutral zone. Most of the first period saw the Flyers turning the puck over in the neutral zone or offensive zone. Tampa’s first goal on the night was off a turnover in the neutral zone while a Scott Hartnell turnover in the offensive zone led to a Tampa Bay goal later in the period.
Another sign of rust came from the defense occasionally being out of position. Braydon Coburn’s aggresive play at the very beginning of the game resulted in Purcell’s first goal. It was a play Coburn didn’t need to make and allowed Purcell and Lecavalier to enter the zone with a 2-on-1. Aside from Coburn, Chris Pronger also had a shaky start. Nearly turning over the puck twice and leaving Dana Tyrell with an open chance to score shorthanded as Pronger pursued the same man as Timonen summed up Pronger’s main plays in the first period. These aren’t routine plays frome the two and were probably due to the fact they had not played a game over the last week.
Goaltending was the difference in the game. Sergei Bobrovsky only played the first period, but allowed three goals on six shots while Roloson kept his team in the game throughout. Two of Tampa’s goals came while Bobrovsky was deep in the crease. Bob’s positioning in relation to the net has been talked about a lot this season, but tonight it proved to be negative. It will be interesting to see how Bob will play in his next appearance, whether he’ll be more aggressive or still remain in the back part of the crease.
Notes: This was the 4th time all season the Flyers had been shutout (11/16 @MTL, 12/1 vs. BOS, 12/20 vs. FLA). The Flyers are now 0-3-0 against Tampa Bay (the most games the Flyers have played against any team this season without winning or registering a point). The Flyers out shot the Lightning 38-22 out shooting the opposition in all 3 periods (1st/13-6 PHI, 2nd/ 14-11 PHI, 3rd/ 11-5 PHI). The Flyers are now 6-4-1 against the Southeast this season (TBL 0-3-0, WSH 2-0-1, ATL 1-0-0, CAR 2-0-0, FLA 1-1-0).