It was a strange game at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon — and not just because the Flyers suffered their first home loss in more than two months, dropping a 6-3 decision to Tampa Bay (see story).
It was odd because the Flyers outshot the Lightning, 38-25, had nine fewer giveaways, and owned a significant territorial edge….and still lost.
They lost because goalie Steve Mason had a rare sub-par game, and because the Flyers got burnt on three odd-man rushes in the second period.
These aren’t the trapping, tight-checking Tampa Bay Lightning of a few years ago. This Tampa team, even without injured superstar Steve Stamkos, likes to come at you with its speed and play an uptempo game.
“They have a lot of forwards who can skate, and if you’re not responsible defensively, it’s going to hurt us,” said Claude Giroux, who had two assists in the loss.
"You never want to go run-and-gun," winger Wayne Simmonds said. "That’s not our team style of play, that’s not when we’re most successful. I thought we did well for the first 10 minutes of the second and then it seemed like...we wanted to be the Harlem Globetrotters and we wanted to start doing other stuff and we can’t do that or else we’re going to come out on the short end of the stick."
The Flyers had a great forecheck and spent a considerable amount of time in the Lightning’s zone, but Tampa Bay countered by going on several two-on-one and three-on-two rushes in the second period, when it scored four of its goals.
Before Saturday, the Flyers had greatly reduced the number of odd-man rushes against them in recent weeks.
There were seven goals in the second period, when Tampa outscored the hosts, 4-3.
“It was pretty crazy, but games in this building usually get a lot of goals scored,” Tampa goalie Anders Lindback said. “They’re one of those teams that’s really good up front. They maybe let up a little too much in their own end.”
The Flyers have lost six of their last seven games against Tampa.
“We’re well-balanced and we’ve been playing really well,” defenseman Mark Streit said. “Today was just one of those games that was up-and-down, back-and-forth, and that’s not the way we want to play.”
The Flyers need to play with a defense-first mentality to make up for some of their shortcomings.
They get a chance to rebound Sunday night in New York against the Rangers. Backup goalie Ray Emery figured to get the start, but with Mason pulled after two periods on Saturday, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was back in the nets to give him a chance to redeem himself.
Breakaways. Heading into Sunday’s matchup, the Flyers are one point ahead of the Rangers in the Metro Division…. Because of the tie-breaker, the Flyers technically slipped into third place with Saturday’s loss; they are tied with the Caps in points, but they have played one more game…..Nick Grossmann, Streit, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds were each minus-3…Matt Read (concussion) will not play Sunday but is possible for Tuesday in Buffalo….Giroux led the Flyers with six shots, while Brayden Schenn and Andrej Meszaros each had five…Scott Hartnell was penalized for a check to the head, and there is a chance the league will review it......The Rangers are on an 8-3-2 run.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.