Stamkos And Garon Lead Lightning In 5-1 Victory Over Flyers

Steven Stamkos had a two-goal night and Mathieu Garon made 31 saves to led the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-1 home victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite out shooting the Lightning 32-16 and forcing them into 11 icings while Tampa Bay didn’t force them into any, the Flyers leave Tampa Bay after an unfortunate loss they didn’t deserve.

Scott Hartnell scored the Flyers’ only goal of the game while Ilya Bryzgalov stopped a mere 11 of the 16 shots he faced as the Flyers lost for the fourth time in their last five games. 

Hartnell was snakebitten early on, victimized by Garon with a huge save during 5-on-5 action roughly 6 1/2 minutes in.

At the Lightning’s blue line, Hartnell received a pass from Matt Read behind the Bolts’ defensive pairing and went in all alone on the Tampa net. Showing slight hesitation as he waited for the netminder to make the first move, Hartnell eventually tried stuffing the puck past the goalie’s left leg pad but couldn’t put it over the goal line as Garon wrapped his body around the post.

Although the Flyers were dominating in the offensive zone, the Lightning scored on their second shot of the game to grab the 1-0 lead.

Adam Hall won a right-circle draw back to Bruno Gervais, who was stationed at the point. Slapping the puck through traffic, Gervais’ shot appeared to glance off of Brayden Schenn’s stick and past Bryzgalov for his third tally of the year 9:34 into the game.

Fighting against the 1-3-1 system, the Flyers nonetheless returned to their dominance in the Bolts’ offensive zone.

A slew of odd-man rushes, a minute of Jagr controlling the puck in the offensive zone, and Harry Zolnierczyk missing a slam-dunk chance from the crease were the most glaring examples to illustrate Philly’s offensive abuse before Hartnell finally tied the game at one.

Breaking into the Tampa defensive zone, Claude Giroux intentionally shot wide into the corner to Garon’s right. Miraculously, Giroux regained control of the puck out in front and threw a shot towards the net while spinning. Garon made the save by kicking the puck into the slot, where Hartnell was alone to put home his 17th goal of the season in the top-right corner with 1:46 left in the opening period.

The Orange and Black out shot the home team 17-4 in the first period, but could only manage a 1-1 tie.

Shortly after the Flyers’ misfired on their third power play of the game, Pavel Kubina made a great poke in the Bolts’ crease to prevent the Flyers from gaining the lead.

Max Talbot spun at the point before passing it to James van Riemsdyk, who received the puck with a clear path to the net. With Voracek standing at the far post, JVR moved in on Garon before passing it cross ice to Voracek for an apparently easy tap-in. Diving to the ice and extending his stick, Kubina managed to break up the pass and deny yet another Philly scoring chance.

Kubina’s poke check proved pivotal as the Bolts took the lead for good a short time after.

Brett Clark let go of a harmless shot from the right point. Able to make the save easily, Bryzgalov denied the first chance, but provided a rebound for Stamkos at the top of the crease. Taking advantage of the mistake, Stamkos made one deke before putting home his 21st of the season 7:25 to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 edge.

Two minutes later, Zolnierczyk was called for slashing as he hit Garon’s glove looking for a rebound. Eric Brewer punched Zolnierczyk in the back of the head dropping the Flyer to the ice, but only Zolnierczyk was sent to the box.

The ensuing power play didn’t register the Bolts’ a goal, but it did lead to a Downie tally five seconds after the man advantage concluded.

Kubina let go of a slapshot from the point that hit Teddy Purcell’s skate in the slot. The puck then went wide of the net and bounced off the endboards directly to Downie, who was sitting near the far post. With Bryzgalov out of position and no Flyer near him to deny the shot, Downie put home his fifth of the season with ease 11:41 into the middle period.

After Downie’s goal, things started to get chippy.

Looking to get his team back in the game, Simmonds fought Brewer in front of Garon’s crease. Despite giving up inches and pounds to his opponent, Simmonds dropped the defenseman to the ice and opened up a nasty cut on the side of his face with several uppercuts. Brewer, on the other hand, needed to be helped off the ice and headed to the locker room.

After the knockout, Hartnell skated near the Bolts’ bench and started arguing with a few players. In response to Hartnell, Ryan Malone jostled sticks with the forward and jumped over the boards onto the ice. While Malone was jumping over the boards, Downie hit Hartnell with a baseball swing of his stick. Naturally, after two suspendable actions by Tampa Bay players, Hartnell and Malone were handed 10-minute misconducts as both teams continued to skate 5-on-5.

Questionable calls continued to mount as Talbot was marked for a boarding call on Marc-Andre Bergeron, who seemed to lose balance on a hit from Talbot in the corner to Garon’s left.

Angered by the horrible call, Talbot slammed his stick on the inside of the door to the penalty box and earned himself an unsportsmanlike conduct minor to put his team on a four-minute penalty kill.

Although they killed off the first half, the Flyers couldn’t kill off the second one as Stamkos earned his second goal of the period.

Grabbing control of the puck in the corner to Bryzgalov’s left, Martin St.Louis backhanded a pass to the slot. Downie caught the puck at the bottom of the faceoff circle to Bryzgalov’s left and nudged it across the slot to Stamkos, who deposited his 22nd of the season to extend the Bolts’ lead to 4-1 with 1:15 left.

To start the third period, the Flyers dictated the play as they found ways to navigate through the clogged neutral zone due to the Lightning’s resumption of the 1-3-1.

Despite the three-goal deficit, the visitors just kept on coming. Read had a handful of chances minutes after Giroux and Kimmo Timonen failed to connect. His first was a shot from the slot that managed to find its way to Garon through a mass of bodies in front of the net. Garon somehow kept the puck out of the net.  He later just missed putting home a shot from the top of the crease.

For his third scoring chance in a brief span of time during the third period, Read provided a shot that forced Garon into the splits and hit high off the glass behind the net after Garon initially made the save. Bouncing back into the crease, the puck was loose behind Garon before the Tampa defense narrowly kept the Flyers from whacking home the rebound.

The Flyers’ offensive pressure led to a string of icings from the Lightning forcing Guy Boucher to call a timeout for his tired skaters.

After getting hit by Andrej Mezaros in the corner to Bryzgalov’s left, Downie dropped to the ice and eventually stood to his skates showing frustration in the lack of a call from the officials. His frustration resulted in an attempt to chase down Marc-Andre Bourdon for a hit on an icing call and slashing Bourdon in the back of the legs on the following play, which wasn’t called for a slashing minor.

As the conclusion of this frustrating result for the Flyers was approaching, it was fitting that Lecavalier put the icing on the cake by scoring in the final minute of play to extend the Lightning’s sizeable advantage.

Actually carrying the puck out of their defensive zone rather than icing it for an eighth time in the period, St. Louis moved the puck up the left-wing side then  dished cross ice to Lecavalier, who deposited his 12th of the season as he elegantly elevaated the puck from the slot with only one minute left in regulation.

The Flyers have to be upset at the outcome of this game not because of the fact they lost, but how they absolutely crushed the Lightning and weren’t rewarded for their efforts. The only period the Lightning out shot Philly was the second period, and that advantage was only 8-3. The Flyers, on the other hand, couldn’t grab a lead after a massive shot advantage in the first period and couldn’t work their way back into the game with a 12-4 shot advantage in the third period.

If the irony in the shot disparity wasn’t enough, some of the calls (and non-calls) by the officials were aggravating. Talbot’s “boarding” on Bergeron was a hit where the Lightning’s defender lost an edge going into the corner and there should have been no call. As it turned out, the call led to a four-minute power play for the Bolts, where Stamkos scored his second goal of the game.

The call that was more puzzling than Talbot’s call was the fact the Flyers didn’t earn a power play after the scrum in front of the Bolts’ bench in the second period. Hartnell may have started the argument, but Malone intentionally came on to the ice (in between whistles) to start a fight with Hartnell. On top of that, Downie swung his stick at Hartnell and hit him in the back. How Malone wasn’t kicked out of the game and how Downie didn’t receive any penalty is absolutely incomprehensible.

The Flyers look to end this rough road trip with a win on Thursday as they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for the teams’ second meeting this season.

Notes: Stamkos recorded his fifth multi-goal performance of the season and 27th career effort of at least two scores…This is the first time all season the Flyers have dropped consecutive road games…Tuesday’s defeat marked just the second time this season they’ve dropped four out of five games with the first instance spanning from October 20-27 (1-4-0)…Playing in his first game since December 3, Schenn was minus-2 in 8:48 of ice time…The Flyers dropped to 3-4-0 with Schenn in the line-up this season…Bryzgalov has lost his last four decisions (0-3-1) posting a save percentage of .817 in that span, and it was Bryzgalov’s lowest save percentage (.633) for a complete-game performance all season…Braydon Coburn finished the game with a minus-4 rating…Hartnell leads all Flyers with four points (3 goals, 1 assist) this season against the Lightning…Victor Hedman left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury…Gervais’ goal in the first period was his 12th career goal and his second against the Flyers. His first came on April 18th, 2006…Garon is now one game away from 300 NHL appearances…The Lightning blocked 22 shots compared to the Flyers’ seven…This is the third straight game the Flyers have allowed the first goal. This was the fifth time in their last six games the Flyers didn’t enter the third period with a lead…The Flyers dropped to 1-1-1 against the Lightning on the season and to 5-5-1 against the Southeast Division.