It’s becoming a growing trend for the Flyers in the month of January – face one of the top point producers and most skilled players in the game, have him play to his usual potential, claw your way back from a deficit, only to fall short. It happened against Connor McDavid and the Oilers to start the month. On Saturday, it happened against Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche. On Tuesday night, it happened against Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Kucherov finished the night with a hat trick and four points, as the Flyers were handed their third straight loss, 6-3, to the Lightning at Wells Fargo Center.
It took just 1:46 for the Lightning to strike. Maxwell Crozier set up Brayden Point on the backdoor for an easy tip-in goal, his 22nd of the season, to make it 1-0 Tampa Bay.
In the final four minutes of the period, the top-ranked Tampa power play went to work. While the Flyers did kill off the penalty, the Lightning scored just two seconds after the power play, as Kucherov fired home a one-timer to make it 2-0 on his 29th goal of the season.
Through 20 minutes, shots were 7-5 Flyers.
A power play allowed the Lightning to extend the lead early in the second. Kucherov struck again for his second goal of the game at the side of the net, making it a 3-0 game.
The Flyers started to chip away at the lead from there. At 9:56, they finally solved Andrei Vasilevskiy, as Cam Atkinson tipped home a Joel Farabee pass to make it 3-1 with his 13th goal of the season. The assist for Farabee was his 40th point of the season, setting a new career high in his 300th NHL game.
At 14:04, the Flyers cut the lead to one on the power play. Jamie Drysdale scored his first goal as a Flyer with a wrist shot from the top of the circles, making it 3-2.
But another late power play for the Lightning allowed them to restore the two-goal lead. A bounce off the endboards allowed Kucherov to set up Michael Eyssimont for his eighth goal of the season, making it a 4-2 game at 17:42.
Through two periods, shots were 21-13 Flyers.
Just 42 seconds into the third, the Flyers got the margin back to one again. Cam York‘s initial shot was blocked, but he stayed with the rebound and batted it out of the air to score his sixth goal of the season.
From there, the Lightning managed to clamp down on the scoring chances. The Flyers got the goalie pulled looking for the equalizer, but Brandon Hagel scored into the empty net with a minute left to ice the game. Kucherov capped off his hat trick with 10.1 seconds remaining.
Vasilevskiy made 29 saves on 32 shots in the win. Sam Ersson made 15 saves on 19 shots in the loss.
In addition to Kucherov’s four-point game, Point, Hagel, and Anthony Cirelli each had two points. For the Flyers, Atkinson had a goal and an assist and Morgan Frost had two assists.
The Flyers get back on the ice on Thursday night to take on the Detroit Red Wings at 7 p.m.