The Flyers may have outshot the Tampa Bay Lightning 38-15 in tonight’s contest, but Dwayne Roloson stopped 35 to lead the Bolts to a 5-3 win over the Flyers.
It didn’t help that Matt Carle flubbed a routine play behind the Flyers’ net to hand Tampa Bay the game-winning goal in the third period, as the Lightning beat Philly for a third time in the four-game series.
With just under three minutes left in the third period, the Flyers were looking for the game-tying goal when Carle skated behind Ilya Bryzgalov’s cage. Without any pressure from the Lightning’s forwards, Carle bobbled the puck into the side of the net before J.T. Wyman backhanded home his second of the season past a hopeless Bryz.
“It just popped out,” Carle said. “It’s gut-wrenching. I want to apologize to all of my teammates and fans who paid for tickets to be there. That’s a tough one to swallow.”
To make matters worse for Carle, Scott Hartnell potted his 36th goal just 1:36 after Wyman’s goal to cut the Flyers’ deficit to one rather than seeing the game tied at three.
In Carle’s defense, the Flyers seemed mentally out of it for most of the game.
“A lot of bad bounces didn’t go our way,” said Danny Briere. “Mentally, we weren’t sharp.”
To open the scoring, Ryan Malone deposited a shorthanded goal on the Lightning’s first shot of the game. After Trevor Smith caused a Briere turnover in the neutral zone, Malone grabbed the puck and moved in on Bryzgalov before his wrister from the faceoff dot beat Philly’s goalie far side for his 15th of the season.
For the remainder of the period, it looked as though the Flyers started to turn things around before Steven Stamkos nailed a buzzer-beater to give Tampa a 2-0 lead to start the second period.
As Briere sat in the box for interference, Tom Pyatt won a faceoff in the Philly zone with five seconds left in the period before a pair of passes gave the puck to Stamkos at the top of the circles. After he moved around Sean Couturier, Stamkos let go of a shot that beat Bryzgalov glove-side with six-tenths of a second left in the stanza for his 53rd goal of the season.
The tally enabled Stamkos to set a new single-season franchise goal-scoring record. Teammate Vincent Lecavalier held the old record of 52, set back in 2006-07.
“There’s a lot of character in this room, and on this team, and it’s showing,” Stamkos said of his club, which is eight points out of a playoff spot with 7 games remaining. “When you play well, and take advantage of your opportunities, you end up getting some timely goals, and that’s what you’re seeing.”
In the hopes that they’d still grab two points out of the tilt, the Flyers came out flying in the second period and were rewarded with their first goal at the 3:21 mark. Wayne Simmonds carried the puck from Philly’s blue line into Tampa’s zone before he left a drop pass for Brayden Schenn. As Simmonds darted to the net following the drop pass, Schenn returned the puck to him for a redirection goal to give him his 23rd goal on the year.
In the final two minutes of the period, the Orange and Black were finally able to tie the game at two. Jakub Voracek circled with the puck to the point before he slipped a pass over to Kimmo Timonen. The Flyers’ defenseman moved to the net and guarded the biscuit from the Tampa defense before he slid it through the slot to Matt Read. The Flyers’ rookie was able to receive Timonen’s pass thanks to a diving effort that put the puck on his backhand and let him shoot it by both Keith Aulie and Roloson.
Since the Flyers out shot Tampa Bay 16-2 in the second period, and since they also had momentum on their side, it seemed as though Philly would complete the comeback in the final 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the game didn’t pan out as expected.
Less than three minutes into the third period, Tim Wallace sprung Martin St. Louis with a pass to the Flyers’ blue line that put the speedy veteran past Philly’s defense. St. Louis registered his 24th tally — and the one which put the Bolts ahead for good — with a wrister that clanked off the far post.
The fifth-place Flyers hope a trip to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs Thursday night can help put tonight’s loss behind them.
Notes: Timonen recorded his 400th career assist with his primary helper on Read’s goal in the second period…Tonight’s loss marks the first time Bryzgalov allowed four goals against since the Flyers’ 5-4 shootout win over the Calgary Flames on February 25th. He was 10-2-1 in the 13 games following that game against Calgary, as he recorded four shutouts in the process…This is the second straight season the Lightning have won the season series with the Flyers. Philly was 1-3-0 against Tampa Bay last season…Stamkos set the franchise record with his goal in the first period. Vincent Lecavalier held the record with 52 goals in the 2006-2007 season…Wyman’s game-winning goal tonight was his first since he registered one as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate) on February 25, 2011…The Flyers dropped to 1-2-1 against the Lightning and to 11-7-2 against the Southeast Division this season (FLA 3-1-0, WSH 3-1-0, WPG 1-2-1, TBL 1-2-1, CAR 3-1-0)…The Flyers dropped to 44-24-8. They were 46-20-10 after 76 games last season.