TAMPA, Fla. - Fitting that on Halloween Eve, the Flyers were forced to face what has become their House of Horrors in Florida.
The picturesque arena, one block off a channel that feeds into Tampa Bay, has changed names nearly as many times as the CoreStates, er, Wells Fargo Center. It opened as the Ice Palace. Then it was St. Pete Times Forum, followed by Tampa Bay Times Forum.
It's now named Amalie Arena - after a motor oil company.
No matter. The Flyers can't seem to find a way to string together a solid game on Florida's West Coast, dropping a 4-3 decision last night to the Lightning.
Coach Craig Berube said in order for the Flyers to break up a six-game skid in Tampa Bay, they'd have to withstand early pressure from the Lightning. They did that, escaping a first period that saw the Lightning score just 3:29 in, with a 1-1 tie.
Berube also said his Flyers would have to remain disciplined, given Tampa Bay's deadly power play anchored by constant threat Steven Stamkos.
The Flyers did that, according to Berube.
It's just that referees Dan O'Halloran and Tim Peel didn't see it the same way.
"We've been a disciplined team all year," Berube said. "All of the sudden, we become undisciplined tonight?"
Berube said the only legitimate call made was a too-many-men on the ice infraction (the Flyers' fourth such penalty in 10 games) with 5:08 to play.
What about Zac Rinaldo's 2 minutes for roughing?
"If it's a non-hitting league now, I guess that's a penalty," Berube said sarcastically. "I'll have to check into that. What am I going to do? Complain to the league?"
Fair or not, the Flyers tested the NHL's sixth-best power play way too often. They paid dearly for it.
Tampa Bay enjoyed three separate power plays within a 7-minute span, on the way to a seventh victory.
The Flyers have not won in Tampa Bay since Feb. 15, 2011, being outscored 27-11 in their 0-6-1 stretch. It is their worst current run at any opposing venue - and a particularly troubling one considering the Lightning play in the Eastern Conference.
"You take seven penalties, you're going to have a tough time," Berube said. "You wear people out. We used quite a few guys, but the 'D' get tired. You can't be in the penalty box all game."
Stamkos took advantage of a late second-period power play - courtesy of Rinaldo's roughing - to snipe high over Ray Emery's shoulder. Defenseman Jason Garrison, who also has a cannon of a shot, added another power-play strike in the third period.
Despite being tied for the fewest shorthanded attempts in the NHL (29), the Flyers have the league's 27th-ranked penalty kill, operating at a bleak 75.9 percent.
Last night, even though they knew the Lightning plan was to work the puck to Stamkos and Garrison, they still had a tough time stopping it.
"You try and keep the puck away from them. You try and keep the puck to the outside," Matt Read said. "On Stamkos' first goal, we'll give that shot up. It was just a good shot."
The penalties, Berube said, masked what he thought was an overall solid effort. Even though the Flyers had just nine shots at the midway mark of the game, they fought back from multiple deficits and nearly knotted the game in the waning seconds.
"The effort was really good tonight. I thought we actually played a smart game," Berube said. "I thought the first 10 minutes we were not executing, we were on our heels a little bit. After that, I thought we were really good."
The Flyers didn't have a ton of sustained zone time. But playing against Tampa Bay, a speedy team that operates best in transition, there wasn't a lot of action at one end or the other for significant periods.
"I think we were fine," Wayne Simmonds said. "Obviously, you'd like to get a couple more shots. Their 'D' play an up-tempo, offensive game. We got pucks by them and could have had a few more odd-man rush opportunities. Sometimes, it's just a half an inch away from you."
Or a whole whistle.