Penalties cost Flyers in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer (2) works against Philadelphia Flyers right wing Mike Knuble (9) behind the goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

TAMPA, Fla. -- It was bound to happen at some point.

You can't hide from the whistles forever. The Flyers, the NHL's far and away leader in minor penalties through the first 8 days of the season, found out the hard way in Sunday evening's 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the high-powered Lightning offense.

Tampa Bay scored three times - twice on the power play - in a span of 4:21 in the first period to erase a lead Sean Couturier gave the Flyers in the first 59 seconds.

Yes, the Flyers are one of only 3 teams to have played 6 games so far, including Chicago and St. Louis, but they are also the least disciplined. The Flyers have 39 minor penalties called against them - an average of 6.5 per game. Buffalo (5 GP) is second with 30 minor penalties.

St. Louis entered their 6th game on Sunday night with 23 minors; Chicago with 18 (7th fewest).

The Lightning never looked back from that 3-1 lead, pouring it on with two more goals in the third period. Even when it didn't officially count on the scoresheet as a power play goal, Steven Stamkos' third tally of the season came just 12 seconds after Braydon Coburn exited the box midway through the third.

The loss cost the Flyers (2-4-0) a chance to even their record heading home from a back-to-back set in the Sunshine State. It was a polarizing weekend: a 5-1 defeat on the heels of a 7-1 rout across the state against the Panthers on Saturday night.

The penalties made for an unforgiving debut for Michael Leighton, who allowed all 5 goals in his first start of the season. It was Leighton's first NHL start since April 24, 2011, in which he was pulled from a playoff game against Buffalo. Ilya Bryzgalov was given the night off after 5 straight starts, in which he has played well.

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