Usually called upon for solid defense, Kimmo Timonen won the game tonight for the Flyers netting the winning goal in the shootout against Tampa Bay making the final score 4-3.
A two point night from James van Riemsdyk along with goals from Scott Hartnell and Darroll Powe allowed the Flyers to push tonight's game to extra time. The win was the Flyers' first of the season against the Lightning, making their record 1-3-0 against the Southeast division foe.
The two points from the shootout gives the Flyers 79 points on the season — now just two back of Vancouver for the best record in the NHL — and an overall record of 37-14-5.
Trying to win for the first time in four tries over the Bolts, the Flyers came out with a lot of pith and vinegar aimed towards their seemingly unbeatable foe in the Lightning. Physical play and attitude after the play was displayed early by both teams that included Randy Jones and van Riemsdyk dropping the gloves after Jones laid a questionable hit around the knees on Claude Giroux.
The first half of the opening period saw the Lightning dictate play as they outshot Philly 10-2 in the early going. It seemed as though the Flyers were playing the trap as they constantly dumped in the puck from the red line, lightly forechecked, and looked for a counter attack to the Lightning's offensive pressure.
The Flyers' tactic of patience payed off as they found themselves with the first lead of the game.
After dumping the puck in behind Dwayne Roloson's net, Jeff Carter raced to the puck gaining position on the nearest defender then moved the puck to Giroux who was along the boards behind the left side of the net. As he received the pass, Giroux lofted a backhanded pass to van Riemsdyk in the slot, who bobbled the puck before gaining control of it and ripping it past Roloson high on the glove side. JVR's 13th goal on the season gave Philly the initial edge nearly thirteen minutes into the game.
The goal ended up momentarily altering both team's game plans as the Flyers then applied an unstoppable amount of offensive pressure and the Lightning were left looking for answers. This interaction between teams ended with a flurry of Lightning' chances just before Danny Briere was called for hooking with two minutes and eleven seconds left in the period.
Vincent Lecavalier missed an opportunity to tie the game after he failed to put a backhander home late in the period. Lecavalier received the puck at the bottom of the circle to Brian Boucher's left and moved from left to right on Boucher creating an area for him to deposit the puck for the game-tying goal. Unfortunately for Lecavalier, he lost the puck while trying to shoot it leaving the Lightning shotless as well as goalless on the power play.
The first period ended with a Flyers' 1-0 lead despite Philly being outshot 12-4.
The lead didn't last long in the second period as Dominic Moore scored before the one minute mark. As Andrej Meszaros missed his spot on a cross ice pass in the defensive zone, Moore picked up the puck along the boards and put a shot on net. As the puck deflected off Braydon Coburn, who was standing in the slot, it found it's way past Boucher and into the net to tie the game up at one. The goal was Moore's tenth on the season.
The Lightning looked to work off their recently found momentum and work the power play after Sean O'Donnell went to the box for boarding Steve Downie in the corner. The Flyers' penalty kill kept the Lightning off the board yet again and allowed Philly to go on an advantage of their own after Pavel Kubina tackled Giroux and went to the box for holding.
Making Kubina pay for his risky actions, JVR was able to create on the power play and help give the Flyers another one goal lead.
After holding onto the puck at the top of the circle to Roloson's left, JVR let a shot go on net. Hartnell apparently felt that screening Roloson was not enough so he decided to deflect the puck as well moving it from the top left corner to right top corner. Hartnell's 18th goal on the season gave Philly a 2-1 lead that wouldn't last for long.
Powe rarely finds the score sheet, but when he does it's a usually a thing of beauty. This is because it will either be shorthanded or just a goal that comes as a result of hard work. This goal was a combination of both as Powe earned a penalty shot after hustling down a loose puck that was entering Tampa's defensive zone, broke in alone then was slashed on the hands by Stamkos.
As he picked up the puck at center ice for the penalty shot, Powe moved in on Roloson, faking a shot at the middle of the circles before releasing a shot at the bottom of the circles that nailed the top left corner of the net for Powe's 5th goal of the season. The Flyers' lead was extended to 3-1, but that advantage failed to last long as well.
A little over a minute after Powe's beauty, Lecavalier redeemed himself for his earlier flub by deftly tipping in a Marc-Andre Bergeron shot from the point cutting the Flyers' lead to one halfway through the game. Lecavalier's 13th goal on the season wasn't the Lightning's last strike of the period.
Teddy Purcell knotted the game 3-3, when he ripped a laser top shelf from the bottom of the left circle as Boucher moved left to right in the crease, the Flyers not only saw Tampa's finest goal of the night but they also saw their two-goal lead disappear. Purcell netted his 12th goal on the season just fifty-three seconds after Lecavalier's goal changing the direction of the game very quickly.
The second half of the period didn't see any goals, but was still fast-paced and offensively dominant. Both teams had chances as the period concluded yielding a 3-3 score and a 18-17 shot advantage for the Lightning.
The Flyers were able to apply substantial pressure early resulting in a hooking call against Mattias Ohlund four minutes and fifteen seconds into the final period of play. With their best chance coming on a pass across the crease from Briere to Matt Carle, who just missed putting a stick on it, the Flyers were unable to capitalize on the first man advantage in the final twenty minutes.
Most of the third period was rather uneventful as it seemed both teams were satisfied playing for a tie. A period that didn't see several scoring chances or too much pressure from either team gave a point to each as regulation ended in a tie at three goals apiece.
The extra period started off with quick scoring chances for both teams before the one minute mark arrived. The next four minutes were filled with non-stop end-to-end rushes by both teams somehow resulting in not a single goal extending the game into a shootout. The Flyers' best chance came off a Briere wrist shot from the top of the slot after he danced his way into the zone.
What stood in front of the Flyers and two points on the evening was a shootout. Briere opened the shootout by failing to fake out Roloson as he gloved the shot aimed towards the top right corner. Boucher answered with a glove save of his own on as Victor Hedman had a similar attempt.
Giroux lost control of the puck at the top of the crease missing his opportunity to hand Philly the lead, while Moore scored blocker side on Boucher to give Tampa the 1-0 lead in the shootout.
Mike Richards made the shot to keep the Flyers alive ripping a shot top right corner on Roloson, while Adam Hall failed to win it for Tampa hitting the outside of the right post.
Both new addition Kris Versteeg and Simon Gagne missed in the next round giving Carter a chance to give the Flyers a lead. Carter missed his patented back hand attempt leaving the door open for Lecavalier to win it. He too failed to score sending the shootout into the sixth round.
Ville Leino and Stamkos missed in the sixth round resulting in Timonen taking the ice. Not being the go-to guy for the game winning goal in a shootout, Timonen came through in the clutch for his teammates making a move to get Roloson to go right as he snuck the puck in near the left post and raised his fist in glory. After Martin St.Louis was stopped with a Boucher glove save, the Flyers were awarded their first win of the season against the Lightning.
In his first game with the Flyers, Kris Versteeg didn't register a single point and was a minus-1 on the night. Versteeg also missed a shot in the shootout as Roloson made an awkward tumbling save. His presence wasn't heavily felt tonight, but the addition of Versteeg will undoubtedly benefit the team in the near future.
Van Riemsdyk played one of his stronger games on the season recording a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist, and a fighting major). After opening the scoring in the first period, JVR set up Hartnell for a much needed goal in an absurd second period that saw five goals tacked on within the twenty minute span. JVR also sent a message early in the game by standing up for Giroux after Jones put a heavy hip check on him.
Chris Pronger had a strong game as he agitated the crowd and played physical early. Recognizing Tampa's attempt to trap the Flyers as they traveled through the neutral zone, Pronger did what players couldn't figure out 15 years ago, and decided to hold onto the puck for ten to fifteen second intervals multiple times throughout the first period getting a rise out of the crowd early on. He didn't register a point on the night, but Pronger was a plus-1 rating.
Notes: The Flyers improved to 2-3 in shootouts this season…Tampa fell to 5-3 in shootouts…Van Riemsdyk was the only player with two points on the evening…With the addition of JVR's goal tonight, the Flyers now have nine 13-goal scorers on the season…The Flyers went 1-3-0 against Tampa on the season and are now 8-4-1 against the Southeast division on the season (TBL 1-3-0, WSH 2-0-1, CAR 3-0-0, ATL 1-0-0, FLA 1-1-0).