(Philadelphia, PA, January 30) – Peter Forsberg gave the Flyers the lead in the third period but Vincent LeCavalier tied the game later in the frame and Tampa Bay defeated Philadelphia 4-3 in a shootout at the Wachovia Center on Tuesday night.
LeCavalier and Brad Richards both scored on their shots following a back-and-forth overtime period while Forsberg and Simon Gagne were stopped on their attempts by goaltender Johan Holmqvist to give Tampa Bay the victory.
Despite the loss, the good news for Philadelphia was the outstanding play of Forsberg, who was also happy himself with the condition of his right foot and hopes that a solution has finally been reached to his long-term problem.
"It was ten times better than it's been all year," said Forsberg. "It's fun to play again and I've got to keep working. You should never say you played good enough in a game you lose, but it's definitely a step in the right direction."
"He had the puck more tonight than he probably has all year. He had the ability to get up ice, elude people and make a lot of plays," said John Stevens. "Hopefully that is a sign that we are getting his skate problem corrected. He was a really good player."
Still, the Flyers came up short in an energetic and entertaining game in which their coach thought they played well enough to win.
"I think that we've been playing well the last three or four games," said Stevens. "We are just expecting a consistent, energized effort, and I thought that we had it tonight. We didn't get it done in the shootout but I certainly like a lot of the things we are doing right now."
"We played a pretty good game. We came out with a lot of energy," added Mike Richards, who scored his second goal of the season. "We did what we wanted to do and executed our game plan and sometimes that happens in the end that they score more goals in the shootout."
With the game tied 2-2, Philadelphia took its second lead of the game early in the third period.
After Robert Esche made a couple of impressive saves on Richards with right pad and LeCavalier with his glove moments later with Tampa on the power play, Forsberg's ninth goal made it a 3-2 game. Forsberg tipped a floater from the point by Joni Pitkanen, and the puck bounced off of defenseman Nolan Pratt and in the net at 3:13.
Tampa responded with 7:54 left, when LeCavalier deflected a weak wrist shot by Filip Kuba through Esche.
After a scoreless first period, each team scored twice in the second as Tampa tallied twice on the power play and Philadelphia twice shorthanded.
An elbowing penalty to Derian Hatcher led to the first two goals. The infraction gave Tampa a two-man advantage, and the Lightning opened the scoring when Martin St. Louis found the rebound of a shot by Dan Boyle at 6:32.
The Flyers responded with a Richards shorthanded tally just 50 seconds later on a slap shot by second-year center.
Philadelphia had some great chances on a power play later in the second but Holmqvist kept the Flyers off of the board for the time being, with a glove save on Simon Gagne as well as a nice stop on a Geoff Sanderson rebound attempt.
It was another shorthanded goal that would give the Flyers a brief lead. R.J. Umberger drew a penalty on Boyle on a breakaway, and the Flyers pulled Robert Esche for a second attacker. Jeff Carter passed the puck to Simon Gagne from the Philadelphia blue line to the opposing blue line, charged the net, and tipped in the return feed from Gagne for his third goal in two games at 18:49.
"The last couple of games I've really had my legs," said Carter.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, it could not keep the Tampa power play from capitalizing when Ruslan Fedotenko's one-timer from the faceoff circle tied the game with 36 seconds left in the middle frame.
This was the fourth and final game between the two clubs this season, with the Lightning winning three of them.
Philadelphia has now dropped 11 straight home games, including two shootout losses. Their last home win came on November 24 vs. Columbus.
Philadelphia remains home on Thursday to host the New Jersey Devils at the Wachovia Center (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 610 WIP).
FLYERS NOTES Joni Pitkanen finished with two assists to reach 100 points in the NHL. He leads the team with 25 assists this season. … The Flyers have not beaten the Lightning in Philadelphia in the regular season since January 18, 2003. … Philadelphia is now 2-26-2 when allowing the first goal of the game.