Lightning at Flyers game preview
TIME: Saturday at 1 p.m.
TV: Sun Sports
The Philadelphia Flyers are riding their longest home winning streak in a decade. To equal the third-longest in franchise history, they must knock off a team they’ve struggled to beat recently and has been very good on the road.
Philadelphia seeks its 11th straight home win Saturday as it faces the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Flyers (23-17-4) look almost completely different from the club that started the season 2-7-0 at the Wells Fargo Center, winning 10 in a row since a 3-0 loss to New Jersey on Nov. 7. They’ve outscored opponents 39-17 during that stretch while tallying at least four goals seven times.
Philadelphia has taken 11 straight at home four times, most recently Oct. 27-Dec. 5, 2003. All 10 of these victories have come in regulation for its longest home winning streak without overtime since a 14-game run Feb. 10-April 4, 1985 — the franchise’s second-best stretch at home overall behind a 20-game streak in 1976.
Claude Giroux and Jacob Voracek have combined for 27 points during the streak, but the Flyers didn’t need a point from either for a 3-1 victory over Montreal on Wednesday. Their ninth win in 11 games overall featured Andrej Meszaros getting credited with assists on goals from Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl and Zac Rinaldo.
”I think they’re confident guys right now and they believe they can win,” coach Craig Berube said. ”They’re not always going to play their best hockey, but we’re squeezing wins out.”
Rinaldo, the team leader with 135 hits, will be sidelined for about six weeks due to a high left ankle sprain.
Philadelphia held the Canadiens scoreless on four power-play chances and has killed off all 19 over its last six games.
”It’s just guys willing to block shots and sacrifice their bodies and getting sticks into passing and shooting lanes,” Couturier said. ”It’s doing the little things that sometimes you don’t realize that makes us effective and it’s a total team effort.”
Steve Mason has been strong in net, posting a 1.78 goals-against average in nine starts during the home streak. Ray Emery started a 4-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 27 in the teams’ only matchup this season.
That marked the Lightning’s fifth win in the past six meetings, outscoring the Flyers 24-11, and they are 9-2-1 in this series since the start of 2010-11.
Tampa Bay (26-14-4) has won six of seven away from home. The only loss came when the Lightning blew a two-goal lead at Edmonton, and they yielded just seven goals in the six victories.
However, they’re coming off a disappointing result at home Thursday, losing 4-3 to Washington on Eric Fehr’s redirected goal with 51.5 seconds left. Tampa Bay fell despite a 36-20 advantage in shots, marking the 11th time the team has lost despite outshooting its opponent.
”You hold them to 11 shots the last two periods, and it’s another one of those situations we had multiple chances to take the lead and we didn’t,” coach Jon Cooper said. ”We just broke down at the end.”
The Lightning remain without Ben Bishop due to a sprained right wrist, and he’s not eligible to return until Monday at Columbus. Bishop has been one of the league’s top goalies, going 22-5-3 with a 1.86 goals-against average.
Anders Lindback stopped just 16 of 20 shots Thursday and owns a 3.63 GAA over his last four games. He has been strong versus the Flyers, though, winning the first meeting this season and recording a 1.76 GAA in his last four against them.
Martin St. Louis recorded an assist Thursday to take sole possession of 89th on the league’s all-time points list (953) and has 22 in his last 14 games versus Philadelphia.