Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman talked about the games this week with Philadelphia and Detroit as a measuring stick to see where his hockey club is in the pecking order of the NHL.
Well after the first game Tuesday, the Lightning GM has to be very pleased with how team is battled back from a 3-1 deficit against the Eastern Conference leaders tonight.
Through 65 minutes of play, the Lightning and Flyers were tied at 3-3 and only after an individual skill the Flyers left Tampa with a 4-3 shootout victory.
This was a playoff atmosphere at the St Pete Times Forum tonight, both teams talked before the game that they were going to prepare as if it was a playoff battle. Neither team took a shift off, they went back and forth during the game as they tried to impose their will on the other team.
The impressive part of the game tonight was how well the Bolts battled with the big physical Flyers.
“I am very proud of my team tonight, I could not be disappointed in any part of the game tonight. We battled a very talented team thru the team portion of the game,” said Bolts coach Guy Boucher. “During the playoffs you will have to beat a team 5-on-5.”
Tampa took the play to Philadelphia early outshooting the Flyers, 10-3; it didn’t matter to James van Riemsdyk who got up off the ice after his fight with Bolts defensiveman and ex-Flyer Randy Jones and scored his 13th goal of the season to give his team an early 1-0 lead.
However, Dominic Moore (Rocket Sports & Entertainment favorite) answered the Flyer goal 59 seconds into the second period as he took a shot that deflected in off a Philadelphia defensiveman for his 10th goal of the season. That goal started a furious period of play that had a little bit of everything.
The Flyers scored on a power play goal from Scott Hartnell who scored on a textbook deflection in front of Bolt goalie Dwayne Roloson to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
Tampa then went on a power play of its own later in the second period as they tried to answer the Flyers goal, but Bolts defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron made a sloppy play in the offensive zone which lead to a breakaway for Darroll Powe who was hooked down on the play by Steven Stamkos. This play lead to a penalty shot for Powe who beat Roloson extend the lead to two at 8:48 of the second period. However, Lightning captain Vinnie Lecavalier, who Boucher referred to as a scoring machine last month, scored one of the team’s biggest goals thus far in the year, as he scored on power play goal to cut the Philly lead to 3-2.
Teddy Purcell capped off the comeback with a blistering shot passed Flyer goalie Brian Boucher to tie the score at 3-3 in the second period. The teams played it pretty safe in the third period not wanting to give up two full points to the other team.
In a tough way to finish the game, Kimmo Timonen beat Roloson in the shootout to give the Flyers the second point and extend their lead in the Eastern Conference to five points. It was a game that neither can be unhappy with the outcome, Philly needed the two points tonight but if you asked the Bolts at the beginning of the season if they would take a 3-0-1 season series against their rivals from Philly they would have taken it and ran to the bank.
The fun kicks back up again as Yzerman’s former team, the Detroit Red Wings, come into the St. Pete Times Forum for a 7:30 p.m. start Thursday night.