Steven Stamkos entered Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia with one historic mark to his name, and after 60 minutes of play, exited with another.
The Lightning second-year forward, who came in as the youngest player in NHL history to score points in 13 consecutive games, scored his first of two goals on the night 14:38 into the first period to become the franchise record holder with a point in 14 consecutive matches and to keep pace with Evgeni Malkin for the league’s longest active streak.
The effort fell short, however, in a 7-2 loss to the Flyers at the St. Pete Times Forum.
“We can’t afford games like this,” Stamkos said. “It’s tough to swallow, especially when that’s a team that’s ahead of us who we can catch.”
Mike Richards led all skaters with four points, adding a goal and three assists, and Simon Gagne scored twice on the power play to help Philadelphia to its fifth consecutive win.
Claude Giroux, Dan Carcillo, Jeff Carter, and James van Riemsdyk also had goals for the Flyers, who tallied five in the third period to break a 2-2 tie.
“I was a little concerned after the first period,” Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette said. “It was a little sloppy and I thought the execution wasn’t that great and we needed to clean that up. For me, we got better as the game went on.”
Goaltender Michael Leighton stopped 36 of 38 shots en route to winning five consecutive starts for the first time in his NHL career.
“I’m taking every single game like it’s my last,” Leighton said. “But I’m just trying to stay in the NHL and help this team win. With the trade deadline, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but hopefully I can stay here and we can make a nice run.”
Richards put Philadelphia up 1-0 on a deflection that went wide of the pad of Antero Niittymaki and into the net at 10:34.
Stamkos tied the game just four minutes later with a wrist shot from the right hash marks that beat Leighton to send a 1-1 game into the first intermission.
Stamkos lit the lamp a second time to open the middle frame with his 37th of the season, but Carcillo answered to even things up at two goals apiece at 4:58.
Steve Downie tallied an assist on the play to extend his career-high point streak to eight games.
“When we were up 2-1, we had a few chances to make it 3-1,” Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet said. “I thought that goal off the draw was just at the wrong time. It was the wrong play, and it’s tough, but we worked hard tonight.”
Gagne gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead with his eighth goal of the season just 17 seconds into the third with the man advantage before notching yet another from the left circle off a feed from Richards.
Van Riemsdyk padded the lead to three with a shot from the top of the crease that increased Philadelphia’s lead to 5-2 and Giroux found the back before Carter capped the win with an additional score.
“Hats off to the guys. They played a great third period,” Leighton added.
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