PHILADELPHIA – The Tampa Bay Lightning love playing at Philadelphia, and on Thursday night they showed why. Led by a three-point effort by Martin St. Louis, the Lightning skated to a 5-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.
As Tampa Bay posted their eighth consecutive win at Philadelphia, St. Louis scored the game-winning goal and added a pair of assists while Dan Boyle posted two points (one goal, one assist) for the Lightning. Vaclav Prospal, Jan Hlavac and Jason Ward also scored for Tampa Bay as the team picked up points in the standings for the ninth consecutive game on the road.
Notching his seventh goal in his previous eight games, Prospal opened the scoring at 5:31 of the first period. Gaining the puck below the goal line, St. Louis popped a pass up to Prospal as he charged towards the net. Prospal redirected the puck to the left of goaltender Martin Biron for the score.
Jason Ward, center, gets congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period on Thursday. The Lightning won, 5-3. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)
The goal, Prospal’s 26th of the season, set a new career high for the Lightning winger.
Minutes later, Tampa Bay looked to build on their lead when Vincent Lecavalier swept a pass back to Prospal as he cut to the right faceoff circle. Biron denied Prospal’s attempt before covering the puck after the rebound deflected off Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen.
At the 11-minute mark of the period, Philadelphia connected to tie the game at one. Converting a feed by Mike Richards into the goal mouth, Joffrey Lupul’s skate connected with the puck at the side of the net. The puck slid to the right of Johan Holmqvist to give Lupul his 18th goal of the season.
With the teams exchanging 27 shots in the first period, one of the strongest chances came off a play that started when Brad Richards put a shot on goal off the right side boards. Mathieu Darche tipped the shot at the right of Biron before the puck came out to Hlavac. As Biron dropped into the crease, Hlavac stepped to the opposite side of the net for a shot that was stopped when the Philadelphia goaltender kicked his right leg up to get a piece of the puck.
As the period wound down, the Lightning spent nearly three minutes skating with the man-advantage. The Flyers posted an early shorthanded chance when Sami Kapanen carried the puck into the zone and down the right wing. Sending a pass across the slot, Kapanen found Timonen for a shot that banged off the left post.
At the opposite end of the ice, Biron made a glove save on a Richards slap shot from the left point before denying Chris Gratton on a shot at the side of the net. When the first of two consecutive Philadelphia penalties expired, the Flyers scored shorthanded to take a one-goal lead.
Gaining control of the puck as he left the penalty box, Steve Downie skated in alone against Holmqvist and snuck a wrist shot to the stick side. Philadelphia skated into the second period with a 2-1 advantage on their 10th shorthanded goal of the season. The Flyers are tied with the Atlanta Thrashers for the third most shorthanded goals this season.
Opening the second period on the power play, Michel Ouellet streaked into the zone for a partial breakaway shot. Biron made a blocker save on the attempt before holding off a Hlavac rebound attempt.
The saves weren’t enough to hold off the Lightning, however, as Boyle scored his third goal of the season to tie the game at two. After a shot by Richards was blocked by Mike Knuble, the puck bounced to Boyle at the left faceoff circle. With Jim Vandermeer sliding in front of the net to block the attempt, Boyle lifted a shot into the top of the net for the score.
Following up a save by Holmqvist on an odd-man rush between Mike Richards and R.J. Umberger, Hlavac connected seconds after the expiration of a Flyers penalty. Scoring his eighth goal of the season, Hlavac converted a pass by Ouellet from below the goal line. The Lightning winger fired a one-timed slapshot to the short side.
Within the next seven minutes, at 16:35 of the second, St. Louis scored the eventual game-winner to build a 4-2 lead. As Lecavalier made a pass in front of the net, the puck deflected up to Boyle in the slot. At the side of the net St. Louis tipped Boyle’s shot out of the air and over Biron’s glove.
The goal was St. Louis’ 21st of the season, and also his 200th career goal with the Lightning.
Building on the Tampa Bay lead, Ward scored his seventh goal of the season at 2:18 of the third period. With Biron losing sight of the play as Craig MacDonald fought for the puck off the back boards, Ward came down the left wing. Gaining control of the puck, MacDonald popped the shot into the open side of the net for the 5-2 advantage.
Although Jeff Carter tipped a Randy Jones shot from the left point, scoring his 19th goal of the season, it wasn’t enough to force the Flyers comeback. Holmqvist held off a series of attempts late in the game as Philadelphia fired off 10 third-period shots, giving Tampa Bay their fourth win in their last five games.
Holmqvist made 27 saves in the contest as the Flyers out-shot the Lightning, 30-28.
St. Louis posted his fourth three-point effort in his previous 10 games. The Lightning winger’s 49 assists are one short of Joe Thorton’s league-leading 50 helpers.
With his assist in the contest, Lecavalier extended his point streak to five games. Lecavalier has recorded six assists and seven points during the streak.
The win gave the Lightning their 13th win in their previous 15 match-ups against the Flyers, dating back to the 2002-03 season.
Picking up the win and a pair of points, Tampa Bay posted their ninth consecutive road game with at least one point. The Lightning are 7-0-2 during the stretch dating back to January 5 against the Ottawa Senators, and have pulled within four points of the Washington Capitals for the Southeast Division lead.
The Lightning return to the St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday, February 16 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) to face the Capitals. As the clubs fight for points in the standings, they will meet for the third of four games at Tampa Bay this season.
Wrist shot -
Martin St. Louis