Martin St. Louis and Kurtis Foster were up to their usual tricks on Wednesday night.
Two of the team’s top scorers in recent games, the Lightning forwards extended their point streaks to three games apiece, recording assists in the contest against the Flyers at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Lightning, who entered the game winners of two straight, erased a two-goal deficit that opened the contest by countering with a pair of unanswered goals, but the hard-fought effort fell just short, as the Flyers defeated the Lightning 5-2.
“I think we had a couple of chances there, but I think there was that one shot to decide the game, and they [the Flyers] got it,” Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet said. “All we needed were a couple of good passes and big plays, especially in the third period. I think now the pressure is on. You have to have that one guy who makes that one play.”
Blair Betts and Mike Richards scored two goals each for Philadelphia, who snapped a four-game losing streak by earning its first win since Dec. 14.
“I thought the guys played a real gutsy third period. This win was a minor step,” Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette said. “We needed that and I think it’s definitely important. The guys worked hard for it tonight, especially in the third period. It’s really important now to follow it up with a whole bunch of big steps.”
The Flyers put the first two tallies on the board in the opening period, with the initial goal credited to Betts after a rebound chance following a Mike Smith save deflected off Lightning defenseman Andrej Meszaros before trickling into the net for a 1-0 Flyers lead.
Richards extended the lead on the power play at 9:34, carrying a two-goal advantage into the middle frame.
Lightning forward Steve Downie nearly cut the deficit in half with a shot off the post at 5:58 in the second, but Zenon Konopka was there to clean up in front of the net, scoring his first goal of the season, as well as his first since Dec. 14, 2005.
Victor Hedman, the Lightning’s 2009 second overall pick, struck again minutes later with a slap shot from the left circle that sailed above the left shoulder of Philadelphia net minder Michael Leighton before clipping the underside of the crossbar to even things up at 12:02 going into the third and final period.
Betts netted his second of the night halfway through the final period with a shot from the top of the slot that slipped in between Smith’s legs for a 3-2 Philadelphia advantage and Richards doubled his total as well, icing the game with a hard wrist shot from the right hash marks with 2:38 remaining in regulation.
“I think he [Betts] did a great job. He gave us a chance to win, he was big around the net, he was always in position and he’s a big guy so he can cover a lot of area. I also thought Mike Richards played terrific,” Laviolette added.
Simon Gagne added an additional tally on an empty-netter to give Philadelphia the win in its opening match on their current six-game road trip.
“Tonight I thought we really had that momentum,” Tocchet said. “I could feel it. I know it’s there. We’ve got Atlanta coming in so after a loss like this I’m glad we have the next two days off. If we had won I would say let’s play again tomorrow, but I think with the next few days off, we need to regroup.”
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