Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol changed most of his lineup prior to his team’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the hopes of finding some offense to end a five-game losing skid. He got just what he was looking for.
Three different forwards on three different lines factored into the scoring to end the losing streak and secure a 4-2 victory over the Lightning Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl all scored for Philly and Radko Gudas added a goal off an assist from Brayden Schenn for the team’s 22nd win. Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn scored for Tampa Bay.
While the Flyers’ losing streak halted, the Lightning’s carries on. The team has now lost three straight and have scored a combined four goals over that stretch.
On the bright side, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn’t have a bad game, but couldn’t make some sorely needed stops, while the team struggled to control play. In the Flyers’ net, Michal Neuvirth made 24 saves in his first appearance since Nov. 5 to earn the win.
The first 20 minutes ended with the Flyers leading in the shot on goal category by double at 14-7, and yet, the Lightning skated off with a 1-0 lead. Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring with a 2-on-1 goal off a pass from Vladislav Namestnikov.
Kucherov makes it 1-0. pic.twitter.com/edwKhJKlab
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) January 7, 2017
Shayne Gostisbehere pinched in the offensive zone sending the two Russians against Nick Schultz, who attempted to block the pass but wasn’t up to it. Despite the gaffe, Philadelphia controlled most of the play.
The Flyers hit the post twice in the first four minutes but had their best chance off of a turnover with less than a minute left. Jake Voracek picked up an errant pass in the offensive zone and had plenty of space against Vasilevskiy, but couldn’t convert.
The Flyers were so strong on the forecheck and in the neutral zone that the Lightning didn’t have sustained pressure in the offensive zone until less than four minutes left in the stanza.
All of the Flyers’ offense from the first period paid off in the second. Travis Konecny got the team started when he and Voracek scored on a nearly exact 2-on-1 opportunity that Tampa Bay cashed in on in the first.
Andrej Sustr whiffed on trying to create a turnover on an outlet pass from Andrew MacDonald, which opened up a ton of space for Voracek. He got the puck over a sliding Hedman and Konecny tied the game just over a minute into the second period.
Eight minutes later, the Flyers were up 3-1. Sean Couturier potted in a rebound off an Ivan Provorov shot and Michael Raffl netted a one-timer just over a minute later. Nick Schultz helped create the Raffl goal after he was denied on a breakaway. He scooped up the rebound and found Claude Giroux, who set up the Austrian.
Later, Chris VandeVelde took a bad hooking penalty behind the Lightning’s net. Just as the ensuing powerplay was ending, Alex Killorn got Tampa Bay within one, scoring on a rebound that Neuvirth couldn’t handle.
But the Flyers responded quickly. Defenseman Radko Gudas picked off a pass in the neutral zone, handed it off to Brayden Schenn, who missed the net with a shot. Gudas, however, was pinching deep in the zone and collected the rebound and bounced the puck off Vasilevskiy’s back to restore the two-goal lead.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) January 7, 2017
Not a single goal was scored in the least eventful period of the game, but there were still some chances for both teams.
The Lightning controlled play in the final three minutes of the game after they pulled Vasilevskiy for an extra attacker. Despite that, they never got a very good look at the net and failed to bring it within one.
Tampa Bay’s best chance, though, came on a breakaway rush from Adam Erne early in the stanza. The 21-year-old tried going five-hole, but Neuvirth closed the door.
For the Flyers, Schenn had a chance for his second goal of the game on a power-play scramble in front of the net, but Vasilevskiy made a splitting save to keep the Lightning in it.
Besides the scoring chances, there were some injury scares for both teams. Simmonds and Couturier both left the ice in pain, but the worst came when Simmonds made incidental contact with J.T. Brown. The Lightning forward needed help off the ice and didn’t return to the game, though there were less than five minutes left.
TB-Nikita Kucherov (16) assisted by Vladislav Namestnikov (11), Nikita Nesterov (5)
PHI-Travis Konecny (6) assisted by Jake Voracek (25), Andrew MacDonald (10)
PHI-Sean Couturier (7) assisted by Ivan Provorov (14), Voracek (26)
PHI-Michael Raffl (8) assisted by Claude Giroux (24), Nick Schultz (4)
TB-Alex Killorn (13) assisted by Nesterov (6), Jonathan Drouin (13)
PHI-Radko Gudas (2) assisted by Brayden Schenn (15)
THW Three Stars
First: Jake Voracek (two assists)
Second: Travis Konecny (one goal)
Third: Radko Gudas (one goal)
Philadelphia Flyers at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena – 6 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 8, 2017
Broadcast Channels: TCNP
Season Series: First Meeting
Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins
PPG Paints Arena – 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 8, 2017
Broadcast Channels: SunS
Season Series: 1-0 Pittsburgh
Wes Herrmann graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2014. He used to write hockey for Cardiac Cane and Broad Street Buzz and has loved the game since birth. Follow him on Twitter at @Wes_Herrm or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org