The Lightning have now gone 0-2-1 in their last three games. In two of those – the regulation losses to the Philadelphia Flyers – the Lightning have not played well. Granted, this performance wasn’t nearly as bad as Monday’s defeat, a game in which the Flyers completed dominated the Lightning. In this game, the Lightning brought a much higher compete level. Their execution, however, wasn’t very good, and offset any potential advantage gained from that higher compete level.
The lopsided nature of Monday’s game in Philly was not only due to a poor performance by the Lightning. The Flyers were extremely sharp in that game, which also played a big role in how the game unfolded. In this contest, however, the Flyers weren’t nearly as sharp. That was evident in the first period, a frame in which they managed only two even strength shots on net. The Lightning’s forecheck forced the Flyers into a number of turnovers and the Bolts enjoyed the majority of the puck possession. They also generated more five-on-five looks than the Flyers. But on a number of occasions, they shot themselves in the foot. After making a play to earn a potential scoring chance, they then attempted an extra pass that failed to yield even a shot. Of the seven shots they did record, a couple were Grade-A chances, but Flyers goalie Steve Mason turned them all aside. At the other end, the Flyers posted five of their seven first period shots during a four-minute power play. They broke through late on the second half of the double minor when J.T. Brown accidently put the puck into his own net after Sam Gagner had gotten a stick on a loose puck in the low slot.
So despite not having a bad first period, the Lightning trailed. They were behind because they surrendered a power play goal and they were guilty of passing up shots around the Philadelphia net.
Early in the second, the Flyers received another power play and added to their lead. The right point shot from Matt Read was a fine one, sailing into the top of the net past a screened Ben Bishop. But the Lightning hurt their cause by losing two d-zone faceoffs – those Philadelphia faceoff wins allowed the Flyers to keep the puck in the offensive zone for nearly all of the time they used during that man advantage.
Down by two goals, the Lightning’s play slipped. They began turning pucks over and committing unforced errors. One of those led to an icing infraction. On the ensuring d-zone shift, they couldn’t clear the zone when they had a chance and lost coverage after the Flyers held the puck in. Brayden Schenn scored on a wraparound to make it 3-0 at 7:56.
Once they had established a three-goal lead, the Flyers settled into a solid defensive posture. They clogged up the neutral zone when the Lightning tried to rush the puck up ice. They got in the way of Lightning shot attempts (the Flyers finished with 20 blocked shots). And when the Lightning did generate scoring chances, Mason made some key saves. Over the final 30 minutes of the game, the Lightning did regain their earlier work ethic. They won a number of puck battles, which enabled them to possess the puck in the offensive zone. But too often, they couldn’t translate zone time into goals. Or scoring chances. Or even shots on net. Brian Boyle did finally score a rebound goal late in the third period after Bishop had been pulled for a sixth attacker, but it was too little, too late.
The Lightning have not won since their nine-game franchise record-setting winning streak ended. Frankly, they had some leaky moments in the final few games of the winning streak (but those moments didn’t cost them a win). Clearly, though, their game has dipped. They’ll look to sharpen it back up as they begin a four-game road trip Sunday afternoon in Columbus.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Schenn’s goal to extend the Flyers lead to 3-0.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Steve Mason – Flyers. 18 saves for win.
2.Sean Couturier – Flyers. Assist. Won 8 of 10 faceoffs.
3.Tyler Johnson – Lightning. 18:07 TOI.