The Flyers only lost seven times – six in regulation – in 26 games from January 8th until the end of the season, but two of those losses came at the hand of the same team.
January 11, 2020: 1-0 loss
The season was already more than halfway over when the Flyers met the Lightning for the first time, and both teams were surging.
The Flyers were at the beginning of what became a highly successful second half of the season, while the Lightning had won nine straight games and were 13-3-1 since the beginning of December. The Lightning were finally looking like the Lightning, and they continued to do so against the Flyers.
The game was close with Tampa Bay scoring the lone goal on a fluky bounce, but it could’ve gotten out of hand in the first two periods. The Flyers were out-attempted 16-6 (36 Corsi-For percentage) in the first period and 25-8 (24.24 CF%) in the second. However, after the Flyers killed off a penalty in the third period they began to get some momentum going.
The Flyers had more shot attempts (21) in the third period than in the first two periods combined (17), and more scoring chances (three in the first, one in the second, five in the third), but they couldn’t beat Andrei Vasilevskiy. That was Vasilevskiy’s eighth straight win – and second straight shutout – in the midst of a 19-0-2 stretch for the goalie.
Carter Hart made 27 saves on 28 shots in the loss.
The Lightning have had the Flyers’ number in recent years, and that continued this season.
February 15, 2020: 5-3 loss
The final win of Vasilevskiy’s aforementioned 19-0-2 stretch came in this game against the Flyers.
The Flyers were finally able to solve Vasilevskiy thanks to the help of the man advantage, but they couldn’t climb out of a 2-0 first-period deficit – and 3-0 hole early in the second period – that became 4-1 midway through the third period.
James van Riemsdyk scored at the end of a power play with less than five minutes left and Claude Giroux scored with the goalie pulled less than 45 seconds later to pull within one goal, but Nikita Kucherov put the game away with an empty-netter in the final minute.
Once again the final period was the Flyers’ best. They got out-attempted 19-7 (26.92 CF%) and 10-9 (47.37 CF%) in the first and second period respectively, but had a 10-6 (62.5 CF%) advantage in the third period. Some of this may be due to score effects, however, but the Flyers still kept the pressure on until the final horn.
Hart got the start again against the Lightning, but was a bit shakier as he made just 19 saves on 23 shots.
The Lightning would likely be the Flyers’ biggest test out of the three teams in the round robin. While the Flyers had winning records against the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals in the regular season, they haven’t beat the Lightning since 2017.
Tampa Bay has been one of the best teams in the league – especially in the Eastern Conference – over the past several years. They haven’t been able to put it all together in the playoffs, but they are a formidable foe that the Flyers have had their troubles with.
If the Flyers have the upper hand against the Bruins, they definitely come in as the underdog against the Lightning. The Flyers were still only three points behind the Lightning in the regular season while playing one less game.