The third period comeback was not to be this time around.
In the first encounter between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers, the orange and black erased a 5-1 deficit halfway through the third period to force overtime, before eventually dropping that November matinee at the Wells Fargo Center, 6-5.
The second installment of Bolts-Bullies, this one at the Amalie Arena in December, followed a similar script. Despite opening the scoring, Philly trailed 5-2 entering the third period, and again staged an unlikely comeback to force overtime before, again, ultimately dropping the game 6-5 in the extra frame.
Round three had an opportunity to go the same route, but the Flyers just couldn’t get much established against the Lightning, who are on pace to have the best points total as a team since the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings.
Tampa chased Carter Hart early, going up 3-0 on nine shots in the first 10:23 of the game. Brian Elliott performed admirably in relief, especially considering he hasn’t played an NHL game since November 15, stopping 22 of 23, but it just wasn’t enough to complete a trilogy of ridiculous comebacks.
Claude Giroux (no points in three straight games; held without a point in eight of last 13 games), James van Riemsdyk (held without a goal in nine of last 10 games), Jakub Voracek (no points in two straight following eight-game point streak), and Wayne Simmonds (1 goal in last 14 games) combined for zero points and nine shots on goal. When four of the five highest paid forwards are non-factors, their team probably won’t have much of a chance against the best team in the league, even if Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevskiy don’t dress.
And that, as they say, was that. For more enthralling analysis, as well as some rousing speculation heading into next Monday’s trade deadline, listen to the postgame show. If nothing else, I can promise you it’s way more entertaining than the first half of that first period.