Slow starts have been a bad habit for the Flyers and maybe, in certain situations, they haven't had to pay for them. On Tuesday, they were forced to play mistake-free for the final two periods and managed to erase a 3-0 deficit to the Islanders, only to make the mistake in the final minute and come away with no points.
In Saturday's game against the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning, the Flyers fell behind early and fell into a 3-0 hole again. Instead of erasing the deficit, the Flyers were down by two in the third and challenging to cut into the deficit further before they made the one mistake that did them in. The Flyers got two goals in short order after falling behind 4-1 with under eight minutes to play in the third, but were not able to complete the comeback in a 5-3 loss to the Lightning.
The Lightning wasted no time getting on the board. Just 3:17 into the game, they got a bounce and took advantage of it. Alex Killorn attempted a centering pass that hit the skate of Ivan Provorov and bounced right back to Killorn, who tucked it in as Carter Hart abandoned the post for his 22nd goal of the season.
Through the first half of the period, the Flyers managed to relatively keep pace with the Lightning in a 1-0 game. Shots were even, possession time was even and the Flyers had a solid power play. The final 10 minutes of the period was all Lightning, as the Flyers got sloppy with the puck and loose with their coverage.
The Lightning made the Flyers pay for that with another goal at 14:55. Provorov turned the puck over behind the net to Tyler Johnson and he quickly centered for a wide open Cedric Paquette in the slot. Paquette fired it home to make it 2-0 Tampa Bay.
Through 20 minutes, the Lightning held a 9-7 lead in shots.
The Lightning picked up where they left off early in the second. Off an odd-man rush, the Lightning struck again as Victor Hedman centered to Carter Vergaeghe who beat Hart high with a shot from the slot to make it 3-0 Tampa Bay.
The Flyers were able to answer back on the power play midway through the period. Provorov fired a blast from the blue line that beat Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 3-1. It was Provorov's 11th goal of the season and seventh on the power play. Claude Giroux had the assist on Provorov's goal, moving into a tie with Bobby Clarke for most power-play assists in franchise history with 234.
The remaining 10 minutes of the period featured a lot of chippy play from both sides, with multiple scrums leading to numerous penalty calls. The Flyers were able to weather the storm, keeping the Tampa Bay power play off the board, but saw limited offensive-zone time as the game headed to the third period with the Flyers facing a two-goal deficit. Shots through 40 minutes were 18-17 Flyers.
The Flyers came out firing in the third and generated a number of chances, getting two breakaways from Sean Couturier and a 2-on-0 with Joel Farabee and Travis Konecny, only to not get a quality shot off on any of those chances.
With 7:26 to play, the Lightning essentially put the nail in the coffin as Brayden Point scored off a rush to make it 4-1.
The Flyers did not go quietly from there, getting a power-play goal from James van Riemsdyk with 4:29 remaining and then getting another goal from Giroux with 3:45 to play with the goalie pulled. They were able to get the goalie pulled again, but never really generated a good scoring chance in the final minutes. With 21 seconds remaining, Nikita Kucherov finished things off into the empty net to cap the scoring.
Hart made 20 saves in the loss. Vasilevskiy made 30 saves in the win. The win was the 10th straight for the Lightning, their second 10-game winning streak of the season.
Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Hedman each had two-point games for the Lightning. Giroux and Provorov each had two points for the Flyers.
The Flyers get back on the ice on Tuesday night as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at home in the first game of a home-and-home. Game time is at 7 p.m.
- TB Alex Killorn (22) (Kevin Shattenkirk, Mikhail Sergechev) 3:17
- TB Cedric Paquette (6) (Tyler Johnson, Patrick Maroon) 14:55
- TB Carter Verhaeghe (8) (Victor Hedman, Yanni Gourde) 2:35
- PHI Ivan Provorov (11) PP (Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier) 8:57
- TB Brayden Point (21) (Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov) 12:34
- PHI James van Riemsdyk (18) PP (Matt Niskanen, Travis Sanheim) 15:31
- PHI Giroux (16) (Provorov, Travis Konecny) 16:15
- TB Kucherov (28) EN (Stamkos, Hedman) 19:38