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Stamkos' 200th NHL goal caps Lightning victory

by Lonnie Herman

TAMPA -- On the night he became the fourth-youngest player in NHL history to reach the 200-goal mark, Steven Stamkos wanted to talk instead about Teddy Purcell instead.

Stamkos' milestone came on an empty-netter after Purcell scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Monday night.

The Flyers overcame two one-goal leads to tie the game before Purcell put the Lightning ahead to stay at 9:25 of the final period by deflecting defenseman Keith Aulie's point shot behind Ilya Bryzgalov. Purcell has scored in back-to-back games after going 13 games without a goal.

"I think we all know how good Teddy can be," Stamkos said. "He’s got one of the best skill sets I’ve ever seen in this League. When things aren’t going well, confidence becomes an issue. He got a goal the other night [against Carolina] and then tonight, a game-winning goal in a tight game. No matter who you are or what your role is on this team, when things aren’t going well a lack of confidence creeps in and sometimes you just need a bounce to go your way. Teddy’s getting that now because he’s working hard and he’s getting the chances."

Stamkos iced the win when he scaled the puck into the empty net with 3.0 seconds remaining to become the fourth-youngest player to score 200 goals -- only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Dale Hawerchuk did it faster. It was his League-leading 21st of the season.

"It’s nice," Stamkos said of getting No. 200. "It’s not a huge milestone. It wasn’t a highlight-reel goal by any means but we’ll take it. It’s way better when it comes in a win."

The Lightning (13-15-1) won for the second time in three nights. Philadelphia (13-16-1) fell to 4-12-0 away from home.

The Flyers knotted the game for the second time when Lightning forward Cory Conacher failed to get good wood on his clearing attempt. The puck trickled to Claude Giroux, who beat goaltender Anders Lindback with a snap shot from the slot at 15:21 of the second period for his ninth goal of the season. The unassisted goal gave Giroux 20 points in his past 17 games.

But the Lightning didn't let the giveaway goal deter them.

"What I liked the most tonight was that they got a late goal in the [second] period off one of our turnovers and instead of feeling sorry for ourselves and looking back and getting stuck on that moment, we were looking forward," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "I’m proud of the guys. They battled that mental thing in the third period. It was a real good team effort."

The loss was hard to take for the Flyers, who have dropped five of their last seven games.

"We need to win hockey games and guys worked hard," coach Peter Laviolette said, "but going into the third period and needing to pull it out in the third and not getting it done is disappointing, but it’s not from a lack of effort."

The Lightning led 2-1 after a wide-open first period.

Ondrej Palat put the Lightning in front at 6:38 when Dana Tyrell found him cruising down the slot. Tyrell’s pass from the right side boards was perfect, as was Palat’s shot. It was his second goal of the season and second in as many games.

Before the game finished, the two teams combined for 58 hits, lead by Ryan Malone who had eight.

"This game was intense," Tyrell said. "It was a battle. Every time we play Philly we know it will be a grind, so we’ll take it."

Max Talbot tied it at 13:55 when he swung between Martin St. Louis and Purcell, broke toward the net and skated through the crease before backhanding the puck under Lindback. Andrej Meszaros got an assist.

Tom Pyatt put Tampa Bay back in front at 17:03 when he got his stick on a centering pass from Tyler Johnson and slipped the puck behind Bryzgalov.

Lindback got the win with 28 saves while Bryzgalov made 23 saves while taking his 13th loss of the season.

Although the Flyers have a five-day break in their schedule following this game before they return Sunday night against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, they might prefer to get right back on the ice after such a tough loss.

"Obviously, you would rather be playing games and trying to make a difference in the standings," Laviolette said, "but there’s nothing we can do about that."

With the Lightning's two third-period goals, the Flyers have been outscored 33-20 in the final 20 minutes of their 30 games.

"I don’t know what it is," Talbot said of the third-period troubles. "If we knew, we would fix it."

In addition to adding to his point total with an assist, Lightning center Tyler Johnson has yet to lose a faceoff in the two games he has appeared for the Lightning. He is now 14-0 in the faceoff circle.

The win wraps up a three-game homestand for the Lightning who head out on a three-game Canadian road trip, visiting Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg. But they may be a little shorthanded -- both Malone and defenseman Victor Hedman left the ice in the final period after sustaining hard hits and will be evaluated Tuesday with upper-body injuries.

Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen celebrated his 38th birthday by playing in his 1,000th NHL game. He is the 282nd NHL player, and sixth from Finland, to reach the milestone.

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