St. Louis, Purcell Lead Lightning Past Flyers

Image courtesy of Scott Audette/NHLI

The Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum by the score of 5-1 in Michael Leighton’s first start of 2013. Martin St. Louis had four assists and Teddy Purcell had a goal with two helpers, while Philly’s goalie stopped 21 of 26 shots from the opposition in the loss. Sean Couturier had the Flyers’ lone goal, as Max Talbot had the only assist.

Anders Lindback may have allowed a soft girl early, but he did a great job to limit Philly to one goal, as he stopped 24 of the Flyers’ 25 shots.

In addition to Lindback, Tampa Bay’s skaters blocked 26 shot attempts from the Flyers. Both Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer led the way with four blocked shots apiece.

“I don’t know if it was so much them or if it was us,” Wayne Simmonds said after the loss. “We didn’t get too many shots through. They blocked a lot of shots tonight. I think we could have been better. We didn’t get anything going there.”

On top of Tampa’s ability to limit the Flyers’ chances, the fact the Orange and Black played for a second time in 24 hours may have had an impact in the loss.

“They had a step on us,” Peter Laviolette said after the tilt. “They were a more
rested team with better jump tonight than we were. We had moments and
opportunities where we could have scored, but when you play tight defensive
teams, it takes a lot of energy to try and create offense. We didn’t generate
enough.” The Lightning’s last game was on Friday, when they hosted the Ottawa Senators.

Special teams hurt the Flyers again, as Philly didn’t convert on a single one of their six power-play chances and allowed Tampa Bay to score on two of their five opportunities.

It was also the timeliness of the Flyers’ special teams’ failures that hurt the visitors tonight. After they failed to convert on a four-minute power play in the first period, Philadelphia allowed two power-play goals in the final 5:26 of the first period to sway the contest in Tampa Bay’s favor.

As for Leighton’s first start of the season, the netminder made several big saves and received some bad luck in the loss. Two of the three goals in the first were due to the Lightning’s ability to use the extra space from the man advantage, while the other tally hit off the skate of one of his teammates to change its path to the back of the net.

After the Flyers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, the Lightning rattled off three straight goals to go into the second period up by two.

Couturier gave Philly the one-goal lead 59 seconds into the contest. Talbot, while skating towards the blue line, slid the puck to Couturier in the corner to Lindback’s right. The second-year forward took a shot just above the goal line in the corner and found a space in between the near post and Lindback’s right skate for his second tally of 2013.

A few minutes later, a serious of penalties gave the Orange and the Black a four-minute power play. Unfortunately for the visitors, their inability to convert on the lengthened man advantage turned the momentum over to the hosts.

Shortly after Luke Schenn fought Vincent Lecavalier, and landed several punches to the forward’s head before the pair fell to the ice, B.J. Crombeen tried to stir the pot by going after Claude Giroux. After the whistle blew, Simmonds skated over to Crombeen and tackled him to the ice after he talked to the opposing pugilist for a moment. Crombeen was sent to the box for holding, interference, and roughing while Simmonds went to the box for just roughing to give the Flyers a four-minute power play.

However, Philly couldn’t convert on the long man advantage, which led to the Bolts ability to climb to the lead.

Simmonds was handed his third minor in a seven-minute span, as the gritty forward entered the sin bin for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. With Simmonds in the box, Purcell registered his first goal of the year.

St. Louis held the puck in the corner to Leighton’s left before he gave it to Steven Stamkos in the slot. With the assumption that Stamkos was going to take a shot, Leighton and the defenders moved towards the sniper before he glided a pass over to the circle to Leighton’s right. Purcell was able to slam home a shot to even the score at one with 5:26 left in the opening stanza.

The game wasn’t tied for long, as Tampa Bay received a goal from their defensive corps to give them the lead.

As the teams skated 5-on-5, Purcell controlled the disc along the boards to Leighton’s right. After the Bolts’ forward gained some open space, he backhanded a pass to Brewer at the point. The 6’4″, 216-pound blue liner launched a rocket towards the Flyers’ cage, which ricocheted off of Talbot’s skate. With Leighton sliding from his right to his left, the shot changed its path to beat Philly’s goalie far post by his right leg pad.

Brewer’s third of 2013 gave Tampa the 2-1 advantage with less than four minutes to play in the first frame.

Just 17 seconds after Brewer’s marker, Giroux made his way to the penalty box for his hook on Adam Hall. Late in the penalty kill, Mike Knuble tripped Ryan Malone in the slot to hand Tampa a 5-on-3 for 16 seconds. Philly killed off the brief two-man advantage, but the usual suspects expanded the Lightning’s lead to two.

Sami Salo handed the biscuit to St. Louis at the top of the slot, where the small winger dangled for a moment before he threw a pass to Lecavalier near the bottom of the circle to the left of Leighton. Tampa Bay’s captain one-timed the feed from St. Louis high past the Flyers’ netminder before he was able to slide over in time to stop it with his blocker.

The tally put the Lightning up 3-1 with 65 seconds left in the first period.

Philly started the middle stanza on the man advantage, as Benoit Pouliot was hit with a tripping minor on Ruslan Fedotenko with only 13 seconds remaining in the first period.

Pouliot’s penalty, as well as Brewer’s cross-checking minor just minutes later, didn’t hurt the home team, as the Flyers failed to convert on a single power play for the entire contest.

The Orange and Black outshot the Bolts in the middle period by the count of 11-5, but they didn’t produce too many chances that should have really beaten Lindback.

The hopes of a two-goal third period to even the score were quickly diminished on an early goal from Hedman.

Hall backhanded a weak shot from the circle to Leighton’s right, which gave the goaltender enough of a problem that he produced a huge rebound into the slot. With Hedman trailing the play, the defenseman put home an easy goal with Leighton sprawled on the ice out of position to make it a three-goal tilt with 19:02 left in regulation.

Stamkos finished the scoring with 7:31 left in the affair, as the first overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft redirected a Purcell feed past Leighton’s right led pad shortly after another Tampa power play. The Bolts didn’t register the goal on the man advantage, but the special teams’ situation led to the tally two seconds after Braydon Coburn left the box for holding.

The Flyers look to bounce back from the four-goal defeat on Tuesday, as they travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers. Philly took the first meeting 2-1 on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Notes: The Flyers have lost three straight to the Lightning. Their last win came on December 10th, 2011, as they beat the Bolts 5-2 in Philly…This was the Flyers’ first four-goal loss since they lost Game 4 of the 2012 ECQF to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the score of 10-3. Their last regular season defeat by at least four goals was on December 27th, 2011, which was also a 5-1 loss to the Lightning in Florida…Tonight was Lindback’s first career victory against the Flyers. He was 0-2-0 against Philly before this win…Matt Carle was plus-1 with a shot on net and three blocked shots in his first game against the Flyers since he left last offseason…Bruno Gervais was minus-1 with two shots on net, two PIMs, and two hits in his first game against the Lightning since he left the team in the summer of 2012…Scott Laughton wasn’t in the line-up, as he was sent back to the Oshawa Generals of the OHL…Tonight was St. Louis’ first four-point game since he had three goals and an assist on February 26th, 2012 against the New Jersey Devils. It was his first game with at least four assists since he had five in the infamous 8-7 win over the Flyers on November 18th, 2010…The Flyers are 0-1-0 against the Lightning this season and 1-1-0 against the Southeast Division in 2013 (TBL 0-1-0, WPG 0-0-0, CAR 0-0-0, WSH 0-0-0, FLA 1-0-0).