The Flyers battled all the way from a three-goal deficit with 20 minutes left, but ultimately earned just one point from the effort as the Lightning scored quickly into overtime to take a back-and-forth affair by a final of 6-5 on Thursday night.
There was not much room in the early going with both teams off the holiday break with the Lightning having four days off between games and the Flyers with three.
Best chance early for either team as James van Riemsdyk took a nice feed from Travis Konecny but was bested by the hulking Lightning netminder with 4:17 gone in the first. JVR’s chance came after Michal Neuvirth came up with a nice defection save at the other end before the rush.
A buzz from the Lightning’s top line produced a couple good scoring chances just about eight minutes in, but Nikita Kucherov hit the outside of the post and Neuvirth came across to make a key stop on Tyler Johnson.
But Johnson would pickup a hooking call after his chance and give the Flyers the first power play opportunity. On the ensuing power play Wayne Simmonds nearly gave the Flyers the lead, but Andrei Vasilevskiy came up with two really good pad saves while sprawling around in his crease.
The Flyers would strike first, with Michael Raffl deflecting a Travis Sanheim point shot past Vasilevskiy to make it 1-0 at the 10:50 mark of the first. It’s Raffl’s second of the season with Sanheim and Scott Laughton picking up the helpers.
Tampa Bay would get it back soon enough, with Kucherov taking a seam pass from Johnson and depositing a perfect one-timer past Neuvirth to tie things up at 1-1 at the 13:56 mark. The Lightning transition game was on full display and Neuvirth didn’t have much of a chance on the play with Kucherov wide open.
With 2:38 left in the first Sanheim would put the Lightning’s top-ranked power play on the ice with a hooking call on Brayden Point. With 40 seconds left in the man-advantage Neuvirth slide across with a fantastic pad save on Kucherov in his office.
After yet another great save on Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point grabbed and deposited the loose puck off the rebound as the Lightning took the 2-1 lead late in the period. Andrew MacDonald crashed into Neuvirth after the initial save and hindered any chance at a recovery from the netminder.
After 20: Lightning 2, Flyers 1
Neuvirth would start the second just as he ended the first: under siege. A pair of pad saves on Anton Stralman and Cedric Paquette would keep the Flyers within one as the Lightning started to flex their firepower.
Speaking of flexing their firepower, Claude Giroux with a highlight reel goal to pull the Flyers even at 2-2. Giroux beat three Tampa defenders with a sweet deke and then finished off the goal by sliding it by Vasilevskiy at the 4:36 mark.
Not only did the captain even things up, but Tampa coach Jon Cooper would challenge the goal for offside and lose to give the Flyers a power play after the tally. The Flyers’ ice-cold power play couldn’t make the Lightning pay for their coach trying to ruin a beautiful hockey goal.
Giroux’s magic marker didn’t hold up as the equalizer for long as Stamkos would find himself alone in the slot to rip home a wrist shot past Neuvirth to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead. Stamkos had a good couple seconds to put some weight behind the shot after a great pass from Kucherov at the 12:23 mark.
An Andrew MacDonald delay of game penalty would follow not long after Stamkos’ goal to give the Lightning a chance to extend the lead by two. It would be that man again, with Stamkos rifling home a cross-ice feed from Kucherov to beat Neuvirth and push the lead to 4-2.
But the Lightning’s high-powered offense wasn’t done scoring in the second, with Tyler Johnson picking up a goal after Kucherov’s shot hit him in front to make it 5-2. This time the Bolts didn’t even need to wait for the official power play to get on the board as the Flyers had a delayed penalty up on the board.
It was all Bolts in the period as they took control of this one thanks to their lethal power play and stupidly good passing game.
After 40: Lightning 5, Flyers 2
Down three goals after a blitz by Tampa in the second, Dale Weise would pull the Flyers within two just 1:33 into the third. It’s the fifth of the season for Weise, with the lone assist to JVR on the goal.
Robert Hagg would pull the Flyers even closer at 5-4, ripping home a one-timer off a feed from Claude Giroux past Vasilevskiy just 2:48 after the Dale Weise tally. Konecny was parked right in front of the big netminder with a perfect screen.
Suddenly back involved in a hockey game, the Lightning tried to respond in the form of a Tyler Johnson blast, but Neuvirth bested the forward and didn’t allow a rebound with 13:40 still left for the Flyers to complete the comeback.
With 11:22 left the Flyers would come all the way back as Ivan Provorov ripped a shot past Vasilevskiy to even the score at 5-5. Sean Couturier won the initial face off and Jake Voracek tipped the puck back to the moving Provorov, who didn’t miss the top corner of the net under the bar.
Jake Voracek nearly sent the Flyers to their first lead since way back in the first, but Vasilevskiy came across with a terrific save to keep it from being four unanswered goals with just over seven minutes left in regulation. But the next great chance would be Tampa’s, with Raffl off for tripping Stamkos with an even six minutes remaining.
The Flyers picked a great time for their first successful penalty kill of the game, turning away the Lightning after Raffl’s penalty to setup the final four minutes of a back-and-forth affair. Matching minors would open up the ice even more with 4-on-4 action for roughly half of that time.
That would be all the scoring for regulation as the Flyers’ third period comeback earned them a much-deserved point with a chance to steal another in overtime.
After 60: Flyers 5, Lightning 5
After a furious comeback to earn a point and get to overtime, the Lightning needed just 18 seconds to find the game-winner off the stick of Alex Killorn. The Bolts pounced on a Giroux turnover and put it behind Neuvirth quickly to end the extra session and grab the win.