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Lightning 5, Flyers 1: Vasilevskiy shines in dominant effort

Flyers become latest victim of Tampa’s crease monster, but reach All-Star break firmly in playoff mix.

Kate Frese / SBNation
Kate Frese / SBNation

The Flyers looked to go into the All-Star break on a high note, but they were left feeling burned by the Lightning instead.

Andrei Vasilevskiy was phenomenal in stopping 36 of 37 shots, and four different Lightning players found the back of the net in their 5-1 win over the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.

Travis Konecny scored the lone goal for the Flyers, a power play tally marking his fourth straight game with a goal. The Flyers outshot the Lightning 37-22, but couldn’t solve Vasilevskiy and hold down a dangerous Tampa offense at the same time.

First period

A good early chance came for the Flyers and Ivan Provorov after a strong shift from the first line. Travis Konecny—fresh off overtime heroics in back-to-back games—set up the trailing Provorov for a quick shot that was padded away by Andrei Vasilevskiy.

It took a full 7:06 for the Eastern Conference-leading Lightning to register a shot on goal, though the Flyers had just two Provorov shots to show for themselves in the same span as things were pretty tight checking early on.

The red-hot Konecny nearly continued his hot stretch with a breakaway goal at 10:22 mark, but Vasilevskiy made the initial save on the snap shot and was able to hold off a follow-up chance as well. He bailed out his teammates after a slow start.

Giroux was robbed in close by Vasilevskiy after a nice setup by Konecny with 4:05 left. The pass led Giroux in but the captain didn’t muster much on a backhand chance and the Lightining goaltender was all over it.

With the ice tilted towards the Lightning end—and shots nine to three in favor of the Flyers—of course Michael Raffl got called for a cheap holding call with 1:46 left in the period to put the NHL’s fourth-best power play on the ice.

The Flyers did a nice job killing off all but the 14 seconds of carryover time on the power play, getting a Radko Gudas shot block to end what was a strong first 20 minutes from the Orange and Black despite the scoreless tie.

Through the first the Flyers held an edge in shots on goal (9-3) and Corsi For (65.5% to 34.5%) all while doubling up on scoring chances (10-5) per NaturalStatTrick.

Second period

That momentum built up wouldn’t carry over to the second period, however.

Brayden Point navigated his way in the middle of three Flyers to pot the opener just 25 seconds into the second period to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. It was a great individual effort from the forward, who worked away from Giroux to slide his home his 20th of the season past Michal Neuvirth. Tyler Johnson picked up the lone assist on the goal.

Valterri Filppula drew a hooking call on Tyler Johnson with 13:58 left in the period to put the Flyers on their second power play of the night to try and get an equalizer. Neither Shayne Gostisbehere or Jake Voracek could solve Vasilevskiy with solid chances at the net on the mad-advantage.

A few minutes after the failed power play, the Lightning would dig the Flyers’ hole a little bit deeper.

Rookie Yanni Gourde put home a rebound off a strong net drive from Matthew Peca to push the visitors’ lead to 2-0 with 10:04 left in the middle stanza. Peca and Dan Girardi picked up the assists on Gourde’s 17th of the season, second among NHL rookies behind only Vancouver’s Brock Boeser.

Needing a goal desperately before the third period, Radko Gudas put a puck on net and a slick deflection by Filppula forced yet another dazzling stop by Vasilevskiy, who went to the splits to make this one with 4:27 before the break.

The late period push would reward the Flyers with their third power play of the night and a massive opportunity to cut into the lead as Dan Girardi would go for cross-checking with 3:03 left.

Instead it would be the Lightning to strike (sorry).

Just 33 seconds into the man-advantage, former Rangers nemesis Ryan Callahan flew past Shayne Gostisbehere down the wing and cut across Neuvirth to deposit a shorthanded goal to give the Lightning a commanding 3-0 lead.

It was just Callahan’s second goal of the season, but his 19th in 44 career games against the Flyers. The 32 points he’s racked up in that same span is more than he’s scored against any other team.

Third period

Travis Konecny was still active as the Flyers’ most dangerous forward early in the third, but it was the pad of Andrei Vasilevskiy to turn aside yet another chance from someone in an orange sweater. Konecny has been one of the Flyers’ better forwards of late, and was easily the best Flyer forward on the ice in this one.

Alex Killorn would send the Flyers to their third power play of the game with 14:56 left in the game and a chance to cut the deficit to two goals. Despite a flurry in the zone and four shots, the Flyers were again kept out of the net, falling to 0-for-3 on the man-advantage.

Unfortunately for the Flyers there was a brick wall between the pipes for the Lightning, and Vasilevskiy would continue his fine work in stoning Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek on great scoring chances on their fourth power play. The second save on Voracek was on a great cross-ice look from Giroux but there was no dice.

With 6:42 left and Neuvirth on the bench to give the Flyers a two-man advantage, Konecny found room in the middle of the defense and fired him a one-timer to cut the lead to 3-1. It was a stroke of genius by Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to take advantage and create a spot for his hottest forward to get out there with his top power play unit.

The comeback attempt would be short-lived, though, as the Lightning would get it right back 47 seconds later to negate the Konecny goal and re-establish a three-goal lead. This time it was Vladislav Namestnikov doing the honors, getting just enough on a one-timer to get the puck past a sprawling Neuvirth.

Namestnikov would add another with 2:49 left to put the Flyers out of their misery and send both clubs to the All-Star break. Despite the loss, the Flyers have still won eight of their past 10 games and climbed squarely back into the playoff picture as a result.