The Lightning did not play well enough to win this game and the Flyers were, simply put, the better team on this night. The Lightning matched a season-low with 18 shots. They allowed 40 shots, the most they’ve yielded in a non-overtime game this year. If not for the stellar goaltending of Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Lightning would have lost by a much wider margin.
Having written all that, there was an unusual aspect to how the decisive third period unfolded. The Lightning, after being completely outplayed through the first two periods, were still in a 1-1 game entering the third (thanks to Vasilevskiy). And the final period was, as a whole, the Lightning’s best period of the three. After managing only nine shots in the first two periods combined, they posted nine more in the third, equaling the Flyers’ nine-shot third period total. In that final period, the Lightning had more puck possession time and defended better than they had in the opening 40 minutes. But while they made far fewer mistakes than earlier in the game, those third period mistakes proved to be more costly. As a result, the Bolts fell behind 3-1 and eventually lost by a 4-2 final.
The Lightning did score an early goal when Ondrej Palat picked up the rebound of a Slater Koekkoek blocked shot attempt and zipped the puck into the net. But that goal was sandwiched in between two Lightning penalties that were taken in the opening 5:07 of the game. Those early kills, while successful for the Bolts, set the tone for the game. The Flyers were hungry to win loose pucks, dangerous off the rush and able to set up Grade-A scoring chances. The Lightning, on the other hand, were guilty of some unforced turnovers – one of those led to a two-on-zero Philadelphia chance that Vasilevskiy denied with an incredible save.
The Flyers carried momentum into the second, a frame in which they recorded 22 shots. The total was the most the Lightning have allowed in a period so far this year. One of those 22 went in – Shayne Gostisbehere put in a rebound at the side of the net with 3:09 left in the period. Shortly thereafter, Philadelphia nearly grabbed the lead. But Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s shot hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced down into the crease and then Vasilevskiy stopped the open net rebound chance for Chris Vandevelde.
So the Lightning were fortunate to be in a tied game after two periods. And they came out in the third and started well. They had three early shots on Steve Mason and a couple of good scoring chances. But about five minutes into the period, the Lightning endured some self-inflicted wounds. It started with an unforced icing infraction and was followed by another icing and a delay of game penalty. Gostisbehere and Claude Giroux executed a nice cross-ice passing sequence and Gostisbehere rifled in a one-timer to give the Flyers the lead.
A bad bounce off Stamkos’ skate gave the Flyers a third goal before Vladdy Namestnikov answered for the Lightning. But the Flyers iced the win with an empty-netter.
So to recap – the third period was the Lightning’s cleanest of the game. But the isolated third period mistakes (such as those icings that led to the delay of game penalty) hurt them on the scoreboard more than the frequent mistakes they had made earlier in the game. The bottom line, however, is that the Lightning will need to play better – both in Tuesday’s game against the Boston Bruins and in Friday’s rematch with the Flyers.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Gostisbehere’s second goal, which gave the Flyers a 2-1 third period lead.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Shayne Gostisbehere – Flyers. Two goals.
2.Claude Giroux – Flyers. Two assists.
3.Andrei Vasilevskiy – Lightning. 36 saves.