Flyers draw a blank in Tampa

Flyers' Kimmo Timonen (left) takes hit from Lightning's Steven Stamkos in second period.
Flyers' Kimmo Timonen (left) takes hit from Lightning's Steven Stamkos in second period.
Posted: February 02, 2011

TAMPA - More than 2 hours before Steven Stamkos' top-shelf snipe bounced down from the twine last night and hit the sacred piece of ice behind Brian Boucher, the Flyers had long been finished off by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Flyers played the first 141 seconds of last night's game like they were still in Costa Rica, Raleigh, Toronto, South Beach or wherever their talents took them during the All-Star break.

And Simon Gagne made his former teammates pay with two assists in the first 2 minutes alone.

"We knew this team had a lot of fire power," Boucher said. "And they proved it early on."

Tampa Bay, who remains the only team in the Eastern Conference to go undefeated against the Flyers this season, added to the Flyers' fresh tans by turning on the red light four times last night in a 4-0 shutout at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"It was obviously not the start we were expecting or wanting," defenseman Chris Pronger said. "Against a good team like that, attention to detail early is important. We've got to understand it's going to be an ugly game.

"With the way their defensive zone was set up, a laid-back 1-4 [trap], you've got to take what's given to you and make the most of it. We didn't do that."

It was the fourth time the Flyers - one of just two teams without a shutout to their own credit - have been shutout this season, despite scoring a league-high 3.43 goals per game.

With the win, Stamkos not only increased his league-lead in scoring with 39 goals but the Lightning inched within two points of the Flyers for first place in the East.

"You know, I don't think we gave up much the whole night," coach Peter Laviolette said. "It seemed like all of our mistakes ended up in our net."

Still, the Flyers didn't seem to take blame for not being prepared to play - even though Lightning coach Guy Boucher said both teams had to "live through the same thing" before the game. His team, picking up their sixth straight win, clearly lived the better life over the break.

The Flyers complained about the Forum's new boards, which produced lively bounces and resulted in a goal that Gagne shot but the puck caromed off Teddy Purcell's shinpad in front.

"I don't think we were out of sorts in the first [period]," captain Mike Richards said. "They were just very opportunistic. We probably gave them too many good scoring opportunities. One of their goals went off the end boards and the other went off my skate."

"From a goaltender's perspective, the first one they got a good opportunity. The second one was a flukey bounce and the third one had seeing eyes," Boucher said in analyzing Sergei Bobrovsky's three goals against. "There's not much you can do."

Over the course of the final two periods, with starter Bobrovsky yanked after giving up three goals on the first five shots he faced, the Flyers got back in rhythm with Boucher in net. Boucher stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced, the lone letdown being Stamkos' icing on the cake in the third period.

They were stymied, though, by 41-year-old Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson, despite throwing a combined 67 pucks his way - 38 on net, 16 attempts blocked and 13 missing the net. It was Roloson's fourth shutout in just 11 games with the Lightning since being traded by the Islanders on Jan. 1.

"We got the attack going," Laviolette said. "It was 40 shots, [close to] 80 attempts, and we can't find anything. Just one of those nights."

Pronger chalked it up to the Flyers not doing a good enough job of getting to the tough areas of Tampa Bay's zone, settling instead to shoot the puck from the perimeter.

Not to mention, the Flyers were 0-for-4 on the power play with a full 8 minutes of opportunity.

"We had 40 shots but he saw every one of them," Pronger said. "We've got to do a better job of getting in front of him. In this league, if a goalie sees the puck he's going to stop it 99 times out of 100."

While Laviolette said before the game that he wanted his team to come out of the layoff on a hot note, he was also quick to put the matchup in perspective.

"It's not going to make or break our season," Laviolette said. "We could win this game and go on to lose the next nine games, or we could lose this game and go on to win our next nine games."

Slap shots

The Flyers haven't lost three games to Tampa in a single season since 2005-06, when they went 0-4. Tampa Bay hasn't made the playoffs in three seasons. This is the Flyers' longest losing streak against the Lightning since losing 10 in a row from Dec. 18, 2003, to Nov. 2, 2006 . . . Scott Hartnell was credited with six hits. The Flyers outhit Tampa Bay, 26-21, overall . . . Andrej Meszaros' six shots were his most in a game since Nov. 30, 2009, when he was with the Lightning.

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