TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Lightning have put themselves in position for home-ice in their opening playoff round against Montreal.
Richard Panik, Eric Brewer and Steven Stamkos had third-period goals to help the Lightning beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Thursday night.
Tyler Johnson had the other goal for Tampa Bay, which moved within a point of Montreal for second place in the Atlantic Division. If the Lightning win their last two games, they will clinch the Atlantic’s runner-up spot.
"To have the ability to win out and get home ice, that’s what you want," Stamkos said. "You want to play meaningful games down the stretch. Obviously, we were proud to get into the playoffs, but it would be icing on the cake to get home ice. It’s in our hands."
Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier scored for the playoff-bound Flyers, who are tied for third in the Metropolitan Division with Columbus.
"I thought we were up today," Philadelphia coach Craig Berube said. "I thought we competed real hard. The first five minutes, we turned the puck over a couple of times and they ended up getting a goal. But other than that, I liked the way we played tonight. We didn’t finish, in my opinion, good enough."
Anders Lindback played in place of injured Tampa Bay starting goalie Ben Bishop, who may not be ready for the start of the playoff series next week against Montreal due to an upper-body injury. Bishop, 37-14-7 this season, left Tuesday night’s game against Toronto early in the first period after it appeared he hurt his left elbow.
Lindback stopped 34 shots, including a glove save on Tye McGinn’s in-close rebound with 8 minutes left in the first. He came off the bench Tuesday and made 25 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Maple Leafs.
"It’s a great opportunity for him, and he’s seizing the moment," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Panik won a race for the puck behind the net, moved out front and gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead on a back-hand rebound of his own shot 4:33 into the third. It stopped the right wing’s 17-game goal drought.
Brewer extended the advantage to 3-1 when he beat Ray Emery from the left circle at 9:43 of the third.
After the Flyers pulled within one when Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat deflected Couturier’s pass past Lindback at 12:22, Stamkos’ power-play goal made it 4-2 with 5:46 remaining.
"I thought we played well for 40 again, and then we were hit or miss in the third," Simmonds said. "We had some really good shifts, and then we had some bonehead plays which cost us the game. We’re not playing smart. We’re not keeping it simple."
Stamkos setup Johnson’s goal from the left circle 2 minutes into the game. Johnson set a team rookie record, breaking the mark set by Stamkos, with his 24th goal this season.
Simmonds tied it at 1 on an in-close turnaround goal during a power play with 1:21 to go in the second. The Flyers entered with the NHL’s top-ranked road power play.
Emery turned aside two good scoring chances by both Stamkos and Ryan Callahan during a second-period Tampa Bay power play. He finished with 26 saves.
Notes: With Lindback out of position after making a save in the third, Lightning D Radko Gudas stopped a shot in the crease. "Give me goalie pads," Gudas joked. "Lucky it hit me." … Tampa Bay D Michael Kostka returned and had two assists after missing three games with a concussion. … The Flyers have lost six straight road games against Tampa Bay. … Lightning D Sami Salo sat out with an undisclosed upper-body injury.