The Lightning had been the hottest team in the Eastern Conference coming into their match up with the Flyers, having won a franchise record nine straight games to jump into first in their division and second in the East. On the other hand, the Flyers felt they needed a win tonight to stay in the hunt for a Wild Card spot in the playoffs, being four points back of the Detroit Red Wings who sat in the second and final Wild Card spot. It was Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas' first game against his former team.
Gudas had two goals and four points in the Flyer 6-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night. Former Flyers defenseman and current Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (who Gudas was dealt for) did not play due to an injury. The Flyers were also playing without Jakub Voracek. These two teams had only met one time prior to tonight this season, a 3-2 Lightning win. The Bolts won it off of a two goal effort by Jason Garrison which saw him get the game winner in overtime, the first ever 3-on-3 overtime in NHL history.
Before the game was two minutes old, the Lightning quickly foun themselves on the penalty kill thanks to a Jason Garrison holding penalty. Tampa Bay managed a successful kill and just shortly after, Ondrej Palat opened the scoring, netting one past Flyers netminder Steve Mason. Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek got the primary assist on the goal, his first ever National Hockey League point. Tampa Bay however continued to give the Flyers every chance to tie it as the Bolts took three more penalties in the period.
A horrible turnover by Lightning defenseman Matt Carle also nearly resulted in a goal. Wayne Simmonds almost cashed in on the chance but Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made a great sliding play to stop the 2-on-0 chance for Philly. The first period ended with the Flyers having a 9-3 shot advantage.
An early man-advantage in the second period yielded nothing but frustration for the Bolts as did most of the period. Philadelphia poured it on in the second period, tallying a total of 22 shots to Tampa Bay's six. The Flyers managed to tie the game off a chance in ront of Tampa Bay's net. Vladislav Namestnikov accidently kicked the puck right to the stick of Shayne Ghostisbehere who buried it behind a falling Andrei Vasilevskiy to even the score at 1-1. Tampa Bay surprisingly challenged the goal but it was proved to be a good goal and play resumed.
In the third period, Tampa Bay had a good start but it quickly faded away thanks to a penalty to defenseman Nikita Nesterov who was called on a delay of game penalty when he put the puck over the glass. It was Nesterov's second penalty of the game. The Flyers powerplay went to work and Ghostisbehere got his second goal of the game to give his team their first lead of the night. Brayden Schenn then doubled the Flyers lead when he found the twine by putting away his 22nd goal of the year with just over six minutes left in the third.
The Lightning managed to answer the goal rather quickly with Vladislav Namestnikov getting a goal less than a minute later. Tampa Bay looked to be back in it but failed to get a good scoring chance after their second goal, even with their goaltender pulled. Wayne Simmonds got his goal that he was denied earlier in the game by getting one in the vacant Lightning net. The Flyers finished the game by with a final shot total of 40 to Tampa Bay's 18.
The Flyers took the game by a final score of 4-2, snapping Tampa Bay's winning streak and giving themselves back-to-back wins. Philadelphia sits just two points behind the Red Wings for the final Wild Card spot and three behind their in-state rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top Wild Card spot. Tampa Bay remians atop the Atlantic Division despite the loss but hold just a one point lead now over the second place Florida Panthers and third place Boston Bruins.
Philadelphia will not play again until Friday when they travel down to Tampa Bay to face the Lightning for the third and final time this season. The Lightning will head home to play the Bruins tomorrow night in a game which will determine who takes the top spot in the division for the time being.