PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A shakeup of the lines, combined with a determined effort, pulled the Flyers out of their skid.
Travis Konecny, Michael Raffl, Sean Couturier and Radko Gudas scored in the second period to help Philadelphia end a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
Michal Neuvirth made 24 saves in his first game since Nov. 12 after missing 24 because of a left knee injury. Philadelphia had lost seven of eight since the end of a 10-game winning streak on Dec. 17.
Coach Dave Hakstol made wholesale changes to his top three lines.
“Just something to change the rhythm a little bit sometimes makes a difference,” Hakstol said. “Most importantly, it was the determination of our entire group. We had contributions from everybody up and down the lineup.
“It’s nice to win a hockey game. It’s been a while since we had that feeling.”
Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning, who have allowed 16 goals during a three-game slide.
“There were turnovers and lost battles pretty much all (game),” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “When you’re going to do that, you don’t really have much of a chance of winning.”
Jakub Voracek added two assists for Philadelphia.
The Flyers outscored Tampa Bay 4-1 in the second period.
Konecny tied the game at 1 just over a minute into the period by finishing a 2-on-1 break with a shot high over Andrei Vasilevskiy’s glove side after a pass from Voracek. It was the sixth goal of the season for the 19-year-old rookie, who was reunited with Voracek and Couturier. The line played together in 18 of the team’s first 19 games and Konecny had four goals over that stretch.
“A little change-up,” Konecny said. “It happens in hockey and it worked for us tonight.”
Hakstol admitted the Flyers exhaled after the tally.
“That was a heck of a play,” he said. “From there, we didn’t look back.”
Couturier gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead 7 minutes later by scoring on a rebound after Ivan Provorov’s shot from the point.
The goal gave the Flyers a lead in a game for the first time since the third period of their loss at St. Louis on Dec. 28, a drought spanning 3 hours, 47 minutes and 49 seconds of ice time.
And it was a two-goal lead with 10:09 left in the period when Raffl blasted a slap shot from the high slot over Vasilevskiy’s right pad.
Tampa Bay pulled within a goal when Killorn scored on a rebound from a sharp angle just after the Lightning’s power play expired. But the Lightning gave the goal back 57 seconds later when Gudas converted his second goal of the season.
Brayden Schenn took the initial shot from the slot, and Gudas pounced on the rebound behind the goal, and his wraparound try went off defenseman Anton Stralman and in for an unlikely goal.
It was a backbreaker for the Lightning.
“When you think you’re one goal from tying the game, you need to come out and have a good momentum shift,” Killorn said. “When they scored, it was deflating.”
Tampa Bay scored the lone goal in the first period when Kucherov converted a 2-on-1 break.
Vasilevskiy, making his eighth straight start in place of the injured Ben Bishop, made 40 saves.
Cooper would’ve liked to have seen his team force Neuvirth to work that hard.
“When you just don’t have that passion to go to the net and shoot the puck to score, it’s tough to win games,” he said. “That’s what they did tonight.”
Tampa Bay ended the season series with a 2-1 advantage. The Lightning won 3-0 in Philadelphia on Nov. 19 and 4-2 in Tampa Bay on Nov. 23. … The Lightning play seven of their next nine on the road. … Philadelphia has won seven of 10 games in the first game of a back-to-back set. … Tampa Bay’s J.T. Brown left with 4 minutes remaining and didn’t return after taking a hit from Wayne Simmonds at the blue line. No penalty was called on the play. Cooper wouldn’t comment on the hit, other than to say he expected the league to review it.