The Flyers will have to beat an old nemesis, Tampa Bay, if they are going to increase their home winning streak to 11 straight Saturday afternoon.
Over the last three-plus seasons, the Flyers are just 3-8-1 against the Lightning, and they have lost five of the last six meetings since Dec. 27, 2011.
Even though Tampa has been without injured superstar Steve Stamkos for two months because of a broken leg, the Lightning have been one of the Eastern Conference top teams. The Stamkos-less Lightning defeated the Flyers on Nov. 27, 4-2, including an empty-net goal.
“Tampa’s been a thorn in our side,” winger Wayne Simmonds said after Friday’s practice in Voorhees. “If we keep within our structure for 60 minutes, which we haven’t done against Tampa Bay for a long time now, I think we’ll be successful.”
The Flyers have won 10 straight at the Wells Fargo Center, during which they have outscored their opponents, 39-17, winning games by an average margin of 3.9-1.7.
“You want to make teams fear coming into our building, and I think we’ve done a good job of that of late,” said Simmonds, who has nine goals in the last 11 games and leads the Flyers with 14 goals.
“We’ve had some success recently, but at the same time, we have to keep backing that up in order to achieve our ultimate goal,” goalie Steve Mason said. “We have two pretty solid tests this weekend.”
The Flyers, who play in Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Sunday, have won three straight overall and are on a 10-2-1 run.
“I think the test is just staying motivated,” coach Craig Berube said. “You look at the teams in our division and they all won (Thursday). That’s what you have to look at….not what’s gone on (against the Lightning and Rangers). You have to be ready to go all the time. You can’t take time off; it’s too tight, so we have to be ready to go Saturday.”
Backup goalie Ray Emery started the loss in Tampa earlier this season. Berube would not commit to how he will use his goalies this weekend.
Tampa will be without standout goalie Ben Bishop (22-5-3, 1.86 GAA, .935 save percentage), who is sidelined with a sprained right wrist. Anders Lindback (4-9-1, 3.18, .877) will get the call Saturday, as he did in the Lightning’s earlier win over the Flyers.
The game will match forwards who were surprisingly bypassed for Canada’s Olympic team _ Claude Giroux (13 goals, 39 points, plus-3) and Tampa Bay’s Marty St. Louis (19 goals, 41 points, plus-13).
In the teams’ previous matchup this season, Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman scored two goals to ruin Vinny Lecavalier’s return to Tampa, where he played for 14 years before signing with the Flyers in the off-season. Lecavalier scored a goal in that Nov. 27 game.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.