Although the Lightning scored the first goal in this contest - something that had happened in only 14 of their first 40 games - that early tally from Nikita Kucherov ultimately didn't help them. Instead, the Lightning were undone by poor defensive play, an element that has become a common theme this season.
The goaltending of Andrei Vasilevskiy was the main reason why the Lightning were able to maintain that 1-0 lead after one period. The frame was riddled with Lightning turnovers, most of them in the defensive zone. The Flyers had a 27-9 advantage in shot attempts and most of the period was spent in the Tampa Bay defensive zone.
In the second period, of course, the Flyers exploded for the four goals that allowed them to rally and take the lead. Interestingly, the Lightning actually did a better job of possessing the puck in the second period, particularly in the opening eight minutes or so. The tying goal for Travis Konecny at 1:15 was the result of a bad bounce, not an unforced turnover. The Lightning were applying offensive zone pressure when Andrew MacDonald tried a weak clear up the boards. Andrej Sustr had come off the Lightning bench and was in position to one-time the puck back towards the Flyers net. Instead, the puck bounced over his stick. Jake Voracek and Konecny raced up ice on the two-on-one and teamed up on the tying goal.
Things didn't unravel on the Lightning at that point, though. They had the better of the play for the next several minutes and Michal Neuvirth had to make a tough save on Cedric Paquette to keep the game tied.
But eventually, the Flyers took the lead. The sequence began with a Lightning unforced d-zone turnover, a play that allowed the Flyers to keep possession. Philadelphia appeared to get away with a too-many-men penalty when Ivan Provorov jumped off the bench and played the puck at the left point before the man he replaced was off the ice. But the linesmen didn't call the penalty and Provorov's shot led to a rebound goal for Sean Couturier.
About a minute later, Victor Hedman had a great chance to tie the game when he got open at the back post, but he couldn't cleanly control a pass from Valtteri Filppula. The Flyers stole the puck and the Lightning made a coverage mistake. Defenseman Nick Schultz was left open at center ice and he had a clean breakaway on Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy stopped the attempt, but the Lightning never got organized defensively. Moments after the breakaway, Michael Raffl drilled a shot from the slot into the net to make it 3-1.
After Alex Killorn pulled the Lightning to within 3-2 with 3:16 left in the second, the Lightning surrendered a killer goal on the next shift. It started with another unforced turnover - Radko Gudas stole a pass at center ice and countered on an odd-man rush. He collected the rebound of a Brayden Schenn shot and scored on a wraparound.
The Lightning did a better job with their puck management in the third, but at that point, the Flyers were in lockdown mode. The Bolts had a couple of decent looks in the period, including a breakaway chance for Adam Erne. But they didn't do enough to apply consistent pressure.
So the more deserving team won. Philadelphia posted 44 shots on net, the most the Lightning have allowed in a game this season. The Flyers played with urgency and were rewarded with lots of scoring chances. And the Lightning's game was again plagued by turnovers and costly mistakes.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Raffl's goal to make the score 3-1.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Radko Gudas - Flyers. Goal.
- Jake Voracek - Flyers. Two assists.
- Michael Raffl - Flyers. Goal.