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Lightning beat Flyers, spoil Lecavalier's return

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- It was a big night for Vincent Lecavalier, but it was an even bigger night for Victor Hedman.

Hedman had two goals and an assist and Anders Lindback stopped 19 shots to spoil Lecavalier's homecoming Wednesday night in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 4-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Tampa Bay was cruising with a 3-0 lead late in the third period and Lindback had his first shutout of the season in sight before Philadelphia scored two goals 40 seconds apart with less than two minutes to go, but Tyler Johnson scored an empty-net goal to seal the victory for Tampa Bay.

Lecavalier scored on a one-timer off a pass from Brayden Schenn via the power play at 18:07 of the third period, and Mark Streit followed at 18:47 with his first goal of the season.

The former Lightning captain was appreciative of the response he received from the crowd.

"It was very weird stepping out on the ice, but obviously we didn't win and I'm disappointed in that," said Lecavalier, who spent the first 14 seasons of his career with Tampa Bay. "But just skating on the ice and seeing the fans be supportive, that means a lot. I have nothing but great things to say about the fans and this organization."

Lindback earned his first win since Oct. 27, when he beat the Florida Panthers 4-3. He was cruising Wednesday until the Flyers' late push.

"You have to learn from that comeback," Lindback said. "It's not over at any time. You have to manage that."

Hedman's two goals give him six for the season, a career high.

"It seems like sometimes you're on the ice and the puck goes in every time," Hedman said. "The bigger thing is to keep believing in myself. You have to keep plugging away. Just keep playing and things are going to come."

Hedman made it 3-0 at 5:00 of the third period with his second of the night. The Lightning had a 5-on-3 advantage when Hedman took a pass in the slot from Teddy Purcell, did a turnaround and beat Flyers goalie Ray Emery (31 saves) to the short side.

Playing the slot on the power play is a spot that Hedman is unaccustomed to, but Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the placement made sense.

"It's really hard for a goaltender to see around him," Cooper said. "He's got a big reach and he took the eyes away from Emery and was in the right spot at the right time.

"He was the best player on the ice, no question. He had the legs moving today; he had jump, and when he is engaged like that he puts himself in the upper echelon of defensemen."

The Lighting put together an aggressive second period and jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Hedman opened the scoring at 9:15 when he put an odd-angled shot on net that found just enough space under Emery's arm. Hedman, who had been pinching deep into the Flyers' zone on the play, fired from below the left circle near the boards. Nate Thompson and Tyler Johnson assisted.

With Tampa Bay's Alex Killorn in the penalty box for hooking, Hedman and Ondrej Palat broke out of the neutral zone on a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush. Emery stopped Hedman's shot, but the rebound went to Palat, who finished by putting the puck behind a diving Emery for his fourth goal of the season at 12:16.

Philadelphia had the best scoring opportunity of the first period when Wayne Simmonds was awarded a penalty shot with 3:14 remaining. Simmonds, who had been hooked by Hedman as he closed in alone on the Tampa Bay goal, deked to his right and then cut left, but Lindback caught Simmonds' shot with his right pad.

"I just read him right and he didn't elevate the puck, so I was able to get the pad on it," Lindback said. "I tried to stay patient and wait for him to make the first move. This time I had success."

The Flyers (10-12-2) ended their brief Florida road trip with two consecutive losses. With the victory, the Lightning (16-8-1) extended their home win streak to seven games.

"If you can dominate at home, that's what you want to do," Cooper said. "We don't want teams coming down here and it is vacation time, and I think it has been that way in the past."

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