In addition to coming up against one of the most physical teams in the National Hockey League, the Lightning continue to find themselves riddled with injuries. Prior to tonight’s encounter, the Lightning announced that Bolts forward Brian Boyle had been listed as day-to-day with an Upper-Body Injury.
The Tampa Bay Lightning definitely got off to a good start against the Flyers. The offensive pressure was totally in the hands of the Bolts as they made Flyers netminder Steve Mason work for every single save he made.
Mason would do everything he could to keep the Lightning out of the back of the net, but unfortunately, all good things must come to an end; especially when your opponent has a Norse god on their blueline.
The Bolts would find themselves with the man advantage for the third time in the third period as Flyers forward Travis Konecny found himself in the sin bin for 2 minutes for Too Many Men on the Ice. With just three seconds left in the period, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman would capitalize and give the Bolts the first-period lead.
This, right here, is the kind of play we said the Tampa Bay Lightning should do more of this season. Hedman was open and waiting at the blueline, and as soon as he got his stick on the puck, he wasted no time in firing off a bomb that would beat Mason and give the Lightning the advantage early on.
Unfortunately, the Lightning seemed to get a little too comfortable in their lead when they took the ice for the second period. After outshooting the Flyers 12-2 in the first period, the Flyers would outshoot the Bolts 22-9 in the second period for a two-period total of 24-21.
As you can imagine, this opened the door for the Flyers to snatch the lead right out of the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The first of the two goals the Flyers scored in the second period would come just 6:06 into the second period.
Flyers forward Dale Weise and Chris VandeVelde would carry the puck through the neutral zone. As soon as the duo made their way into the Lightning’s zone, Weise fired off a shot that sailed right past Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy and into the back of the net.
Vasilevskiy could have taken a nap in the first period, having only faced two shots in the first, but let in the softest of goals early in the second. Weise’s goal brought Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak at 177 minutes. Even the best players bend at one point or another, it’s making sure they don’t break that is the important part.
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Unfortunately for the Lightning, the second period would end almost the exact opposite of the first period. Less than a minute left in the period, Flyers rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov was able to pick up his first NHL goal to snatch the lead away from the Lightning and put it firmly in the Flyers’ hands.
As the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers entered the third and final period of play, the Lightning knew they had to make their move. With 20 minutes left in the game, they had officially entered do-or-die time.
Steve Mason was able to hold strong for the first half of the period, but the tide was about to change. Lightning fans almost blew the roof off the Amalie Arena as Alex Killorn picked up his eighth goal of the season to tie things up for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Just when you think Lightning fans couldn’t possibly be any more energized, the Lightning struck once again. A mere 12 seconds after Killer was able to find the back of the net, with the assists of Slater Koekkoek and Vladislav Namestnikov, Lightning alternate captain would beat Mason and retake the lead for the Bolts.
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The assists on the Ryan Callahan goal would be accredited to forwards Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson. The assist on the Callahan goal was number eight on the season for Point and the third for Johnson.
Unfortunately for the Bolts, they didn’t have very long to celebrate their newly captured lead. Moments later, Callahan would be sent to the sin bin for dumping former Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas. The good news is, the Lightning penalty kill was able to hold strong and shut down the Flyers opportunity with the man advantage.
Much to the elation of Lightning fans, the Bolts weren’t quite finished with the Philadelphia Flyers. With less than a minute and a half left in the game, Nikita Kucherov would extend his goals scored to 10 and essentially put the final nail in the coffin of the Flyers. The assists on the goal went to Valtteri Filppula and Ondrej Palat.
Despite their loss in tonight’s encounter, the Philadelphia Flyers did not play like a team on the back half of a back-to-back series. The Flyers defeated the Lightning’s in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers, 3-1 last night at the BB&T Center in Estero.
Steve Mason definitely put on a good show for his team, but Mason simply couldn’t contain the tenacity and energy of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final minutes of the third period. We would love to see how things would’ve turned out had the Bolts played an entire 60 minutes of hockey with that same intensity.
There is no denying that Tampa Bay Lightning forward alternate captain Ryan Callahan earned every single bit of his first star of the night. Callahan was a pest on the ice, always shaking things up against the Flyers. Add in the fact he sunk the game-winner just 12 seconds after the goal from Killorn and you have a heck of a night.
While the Power Play unit only truly capitalized on one opportunity tonight out of the seven they were afforded by the Flyers, they did do a fairly decent job of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and creating scoring opportunities.
At the same time, the Lightning is going to have to find a way to consistently score in 5-on-5 situations. While we couldn’t possibly be more elated the Lightning has managed to fix their once dismal special teams units, they cannot be depended on to pull the Lightning out of every hole the team finds itself in.
Tonight’s encounter with the Flyers is not one of the best games the Lightning have played this season, but the energy the team showed in the third period was enough to bring the Amalie Arena to its feet and end the night on an incredibly high note. At the end of the day, bringing home the two points is what matters the most.
Obviously, the Tampa Bay Lightning have tomorrow off so those who celebrate can spend Thanksgiving with their families; however, the Bolts will be back in business on Friday night as they play host to the big, bad Boston Bruins. This is another physical team, so it will be interesting to see how the team responds.