The Philadelphia Flyers concluded one of their worst months in franchise history with a shutout win, but building on that success may be difficult.
The Flyers look to avoid their 10th straight loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning as the teams meet Thursday at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia (3-7-1) is 0-8-1 against Tampa Bay, getting outscored 43-16 since a 4-1 win April 4, 2003. Six of those defeats have come by three or more goals, including a 4-1 loss Oct. 19.
That defeat was part of a five-game losing streak that led to the firing of Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock and the resignation of general manager Bob Clarke. John Stevens took over Oct. 22 for Hitchcock, who was hired Wednesday as a pro scout by the team.
The Flyers are 2-1-0 under Stevens, including a 3-0 victory Monday over Chicago for their first shutout of the season. Peter Forsberg scored twice to help Philadelphia rebound from an 8-2 loss Saturday to Pittsburgh.
"We wanted to play much tighter defense than we did against Pittsburgh," said Forsberg, who is tied for the team lead with nine points. "We didn't give them too many chances, we kept them on the outside."
Robert Esche made 26 saves for his first win of the season, but Stevens said Antero Niittymaki will likely be back in goal against Tampa Bay. Niittymaki is 2-5-1 with a 3.21 goals-against average and has lost both career starts versus the Lightning, posting a 5.02 GAA.
He will have his hands full with Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier, who has scored a goal in five straight games, most recently in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to Toronto. Lecavalier leads the Lightning (5-7-0) with 12 points and is tied with Martin St. Louis for the team lead with seven goals.
St. Louis had an assist Wednesday, and has six goals and three assists in a six-game points streak. He has six goals and 14 assists in 18 career games against the Flyers.
Despite those performances, the Lightning have dropped three straight games, each by two goals. Tampa Bay led 2-1 heading into the final period Wednesday, but gave up three unanswered goals.
"We've just got to realize that we're in hockey games that are important this time of year or anytime of year," said Lightning center Brad Richards, who scored Tampa's other goal. "We should have not got outplayed in the third period and we did. They came right at us."
Tampa Bay gave up the go-ahead goal on a Toronto power play and has killed off just 42 of 56 opponents' opportunities (75.0 percent) this season. The Lightning may not get much of a challenge from the Flyers, who have converted just 8.6 percent (6 of 70) of their man-advantage chances this season and 2-for-30 (6.7 percent) in their last six games.
Philadelphia will again be without right wing Mike Knuble, who is out two weeks after breaking his finger in Saturday's loss to the Penguins.
The Lightning are opening a four-game road trip, while the Flyers are 2-1-0 on their current five-game homestand.
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