A hard-fought effort emphasized by a valiant comeback effort fell just short for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
Benoit Pouliot scored a late game-tying goal in the third period and goaltender Anders Lindback turned away 22 of 24 shots, but in a closely-played 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Tom Sestito scored twice for the Flyers, including the go-ahead game-winning goal at 11:11 of the final frame.
The win marked the second consecutive victory for Philadelphia, which avenged last week’s loss to the Lightning in the first meeting of the seasons between the clubs at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has now dropped two straight after seeing a five-game win streak come to an end this past Saturday at home against the New York Rangers.
The tone of a physical, tight-checking game was set early when Lightning forward BJ Crombeen squared off with Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo, both of whom received five-minute fighting majors.
Following the fracas, emotions seemed to settle down on both sides, as the clubs played nearly an entire 31 minutes of penalty-free hockey, that is until Vincent Lecavalier and Maxime Talbot dropped the gloves at 11:16 of the third.
Sestito opened the scoring at 4:25 of the second after backhanding one past Lindback off a feed from Jakub Voracek.
It was Sestito’s first goal since December 23, 2010, but the Flyers’ gritty forward again found the back of the net to put Philadelphia up 2-1 late in the game, which stood up as the decisive tally and capped the scoring.
The Lightning tried to rally with the extra skater in the final minute and a half, and got even more help by way of receiving a late power play, but couldn’t knot things up a second time in the final seconds despite a desperate attempt.
Tampa Bay, which entered the contest averaging 29 shots on goal per game, recorded just 11 through more than a period and a half. Philadelphia held the advantage in total shots throughout the night, outshooting the Bolts 24-22.
“We passed up a lot shooting opportunities,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said.
Tampa Bay did have its fair share of chances though.
A couple of unfortunate bounces, however, gave the Lightning trouble in converting them. Numerous times, Tampa Bay couldn’t cash in on 2-on-1 odd-man rushes.
Such as early on in the third period, when Cory Conacher nearly put a rolling puck above Ilya Bryzgalov’s glove, but missed just high above the crossbar.
Pouliot finally got the Lightning on the board at 9:30 of the third, but the Flyers came right back just 1:41 later to regain the one-goal lead and fight off the Lightning attack until the final horn.
Bryzgalov made 21 saves.