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Flyers Feel Strong Lightning Response

Photo credit: Joe Tomasone Scrum Sports

In the first of four home games, the Tampa Bay Lightning face the Philadelphia Flyers. There is little doubt that things need to change for Bolts. Currently, they have lost five straight games. This is new territory for this group of players. They haven’t lost this many since a six game losing streak in 2013. Coach Jon Cooper jumped on the need for change. Benching Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point Saturday night against Buffalo. The Lightning response? They lost 6-0 the next day against Carolina. The hope tonight is the boys play with a chip, nay a boulder on their shoulders. Let’s see what the Bolts have in store for the Flyers. Will the visitors feel the Lightning response to the losing streak tonight? 

Only Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman and Stamkos endured a longer losing streak wearing the Bolt sweaters. Tonight, Hedman is out with a day to day injury. Will this hurt the chances for a good Lightning response to the losing streak?  That was so long ago, it feels as if a new generation of Lightning fans weren’t even around then. No time like the present to change the course. In front of the home crowd. Playing in the friendly confines of Amalie Arena. Whatever transpires tonight, much will be said and written about how the Lightning respond. 

Getting Back on Track

One thing for sure, it couldn’t be stressed enough to get off to a good start. During the past five games, it seemed the Lightning were always chasing the game. Giving up rather than getting the game’s first goal is a bad recipe for the home team. So, what happens? Philadelphia scored the first goal of the game. You could almost hear the collective groan of the Amalie faithful.  Morgan Frost snapped a shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy to put Philly up 1-0. Obviously, not the start the Lightning wanted. We’ve seen this kind of start a lot lately. How would tey respond? That would determine the outcome of this game. 

Well, it didn’t take long for an answer from the Lightning. Less than two minutes after the Frost goal, while on the power play the Bolts hit paydirt.  Killorn planted himself right in front of the Flyers goalie Carter Hart. Kucherov feigned a shot and passed a bullet to Killorn who tapped in past Hart for the tying goal.

The Long Change Period

Over the last five games, the second period seemed to be the Lightning albatross. Sure, they tied the game at one in the first period but the middle frame has been a problem. Over the last five games, they have been outscored 14 to 2 in the second period. If the Lightning were going to put this losing streak in the rear view, they would have to respond in the second period. It definitely helps that they come into the second with over a minute and a half left on a power play. They are still lethal with the extra man. Second best in the league. Already one for one on the power play, Kucherov from the top of the circle put the Lightning up 2-1. 

The Long Change Period Continues

So far, the response from the Bolts has been very good. Especially taking the lead in the second period. At about the halfway point of the period, the Lightning answered the bell again. Ross Colton assisted by Tanner Jeannot and Nick Paul combined for the greasiest Lightning goal we’ve seen in awhile. 

Now with a 3-1 lead, the Lightning had the barn jumping. Boy, it was good to see the boys seemingly having fun out there on the ice. Not to be outdone, Killorn scored his second goal of the game. So, the period that has been their recent undoing has been the turning point tonight. Lightning now up 4-1. Now, all Tampa has to do is avoid a complete implosion. Half of the game remained and they possessed a three goal lead. Perhaps to make things interesting, the Flyers scored their second goal to cut the Lightning lead to 4-2. Cam York blasted a shot from the point and Brendan Lemieux tipped it past Vasilevskiy. The second period ended 4-2 Tampa. The question now is how would the Lightning respond in the final period?

The Need for a Strong Lightning Response

Entering the final period, with what some hockey people call the worst lead in all of hockey. The two goal lead. I get it, give up one goal and the opponents are one good shot from tying up the game. Still, I’d rather be up two entering the third period than down two. Especially how they’ve played lately. We will definitely see how serious the Lightning are to stopping the losing streak. The Bolts remained aggressive. No turtling tonight. You have to give credit to Philadelphia. Sure, they had plenty of fans in the building even though they are all but mathematically eliminated from the postseason.

We all know their coach too well to think this team would phone it in. There was no quit from the Flyers. They got some good chances at Vasilevskiy who stood tall enough to stop them all. As the game was ending, former Lightning draft pick, Tony DeAngelo speared Corey Perry and earned a five minute major and a game misconduct. On the power play, Kucherov scored his second to give us the final score of 5-2. So, the losing streak is history. That doesn’t mean that the issues that were exposed in the five losses are miraculously fixed. At this time, more consistency will be required. Without a doubt, this is a positive step. The players needed this win. The coaches too. Even the fans who had doubts creeping up, needed this victory. This is something to build on.  

Three Stars

  1. Alex Killorn – Two goals, one assist
  2. Nikita Kucherov – Two goals, one assist
  3. Lightning Third Line – Nick Paul, Ross Colton and Tanner Jeannot: They took the opening faceoff and set the tone. They scored the game winning goal and played like they were responsible alone to break the losing streak

What’s Next 

No rest for the weary. Back at it Thursday night at Amalie Arena against the Vegas Golden Knights. Puck drop at 7:00 pm. Great time to get a second consecutive win. 

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