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Flyers at Lightning recap: Flyers set table, but can’t finish

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The Flyers completed their Florida two-step, losing a 4-2 decision despite Ivan Provorov's first NHL goal.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers played their final game before Thanksgiving, ending with a 4-2 loss to Tampa. Ivan Provorov scored his first goal in the effort, but the Flyers couldn’t hold a third-period lead as Tampa scored thrice in the final stanza to win.

The Flyers came into tonight’s game hoping to finish a trip to the Sunshine State by sweeping the Florida teams on the road before coming home for their annual Black Friday home game. Standing in their way was the same Lightning team that had just beaten them last week, with Andrei Vaslevskiy, who shut the Flyers out in that game, returning to the net hoping to build on his red-hot start to the year (1.43 GAA, .953 save percentage. These numbers are pretty good — you could even say he was on a roll).

Tampa was playing without injured star Steven Stamkos, although there is still plenty of firepower remaining, with Nikita Kucherov being among the leaders in stuffing his point totals in the NHL coming into the contest. The Flyers had some injury concerns of their own, having just lost Sean Couturier for about a month or so, which allowed Scott Laughton to make his season debut. Steve Mason returned to the net, hot off last night’s successful start. Because of reasons, Micheal Del Zotto remained a healthy scratch in favor of Andrew MacDonald. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

At the start of this game, it looked like the Flyers had tryptophan going through their system. Tampa collected eight of the first nine shots of the game, with the Tampa forecheck snuffing out any rushes or sustained pressure the Flyers could muster. The Flyers were able to catch the Lightning being a little too aggressive and Travis Konecny was able to spring Dale Weise on a breakaway, but Vasilevskiy was able to prevent the goal. The rest of the period was more of the same, and the third power play for the Lightning yielded the first goal of the game on a Victor Hedman point shot, which got passed a screened Mason with just three seconds remaining in the period. The Flyers played like a bunch of hams in the first, with Tampa holding a massive 12-2 shot advantage in the period.

After a better start to the second, the Flyers were finally able to figure out Vaslevskiy after four-plus periods of frustration against him, going back to last Saturday. On a seemingly normal rush by the Flyers, Weise was able to find a hole in the brick wall that has been the Tampa netminder of late, beating him on a non-descript shot from the right faceoff circle on his glove side. It’s probably one that Vaslevskiy would want back, especially given his play of late.

That caption is corny, which means it’s awesome. Good job with that.

After pacing most of the play for the remainder of the period, the Flyers worked a pre-set offensive draw play to gain the lead. A faceoff win by Bellemare got the puck to Matt Read who fed Mark Streit who fed Read, who fed Ivan Provorov who was able to wire one past Vaslevskiy, scoring his first career NHL goal in the process. I can’t confirm for sure, but it looked like Provorov had a cornucopia of weights lifted off his back when that puck went in. All that cranberry saucy passing was a thing to behold, and the Flyers executed it to perfection.

The goal happened at 19:05 in the period and gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead going into the third. After coming out with a lackluster effort in the first, the Flyers got 22 shots to the Lightning’s 9 in the second period.

The third period had three penalties put the Flyers on the penalty kill for six of the period’s first 12 minutes, and as a result the Lightning were able to get some momentum. The Flyers were able to kill all penalties, the fifth through seventh penalty kills of the night, but even at even strength, the Bolts were spending a lot of time in the Flyer end of the ice. Although they were able to kill off the penalties, their luck had to run out, and sure enough the Bolts scored two goals in a 12 second span to give them a 3-2 lead. Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan got the goals, which made me want to mash potatoes out of sheer anger. The Flyers got a powerplay of their own with five minutes left, but all they did was break their sticks from the point and the game continued on. With the game winding down, the Lightning got a gravy goal with 1:15 remaining, with Kucherov finishing a pretty passing play to make the final score 4-2. Final shot tally was 31-29 Flyers.

Other game notes:

  • The Weise goal broke a Vaslevskiy shutout streak of almost 178 minutes, which is just shy of the Lightning team record.
  • Usually when you register a season-low in shots on goal in the first period of a game, you don’t expect a season-high the very next period. That’s exactly what happened with the Flyers this night.
  • Really don’t like playing in Tampa, where the Lightning have won 8 of the last 10 against Philadelphia.
  • Key to the game was Tampa’s penalty kill, which didn’t allow a goal in four chances.
  • Every time a Flyer goes to the ice, it’s cause for concern. While killing a penalty, Provorov took a hard shot off the knee and collapsed in a heap. Thankfully, he would return shortly thereafter.
  • You could make a case for Dale Weise to be the most improved forward on this team. Given his slow start, that’s not saying much, but the last few games may have given a glimpse as to why he was signed. In addition to scoring the opening goal, he almost scored on a Scott Laughton feed early in the third, but the net was well off its moorings before any goal could be scored.

This was a frustrating one, no two ways about it. After punting the first period, they came back with one of their better periods of the season in the second, only to lose it all in the third. These are the types of game you look back on at the end of the season and think “if only they won that one” if they are in contention for the playoffs. Given Hakstol’s wont of late, expect more lineup juggling, and scratches that seemingly make little sense in the next couple of games.

The Flyers next game is their annual Black Friday game, a 1 p.m. game at home against the Rangers on NBC. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!