Sestito's Two Goals Lead Flyers to Victory
PHILADELPHIA — Perhaps in the most unexpected fashion, Tom Sestito's pair of goals led the Flyers to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers looked to erase the bad loss on January 27 by starting the top line right off the bat. They pressed hard, creating a few scoring chances including two by Tye McGinn on a deflection and a one-timer from the circle, but Lindback turned them both aside.
The night began on a violent note with the rough stuff. Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves with enforcer B.J. Crombeen. After a standoff of traded punches, Rinaldo let a whole load of right hands fly and crushed Crombeen to the ice, who did not return.
Both were assessed five minute fighting majors, and the orange-clad crowd roared its approval after the landslide TKO.
"That was a huge bolt of energy that went through the building," head coach Peter Laviolette said of the fight's effect on the game. "It was one of those ones that could pick up a game, pick up a building."
Late in the first, the Flyers had their best scoring chance. Claude Giroux jumped on a turnover, cutting down the left wing on his backhand. He fired a pass across to Danny Briere, on his off-hand, and steered it on goal. The 6'6" Lindback scampered across to make the big save and keep the game scoreless.
Ilya Bryzgalov one-upped him just minutes later. St. Louis funneled a puck right to perennial 50-goal scorer Steven Stamkos in the slot, and Bryzgalov pounced from left-to-right to make the save.
Five minutes into the second period, after the Flyers killed off a Braydon Coburn crosschecking minor, the Flyers fought back. Jakub Voracek fought for the puck in the corner, then threaded a tremendous pass cross ice to a breaking Tom Sestito off the bench, who juked a forehand-backhand move to beat Lindback and put the Flyers on top.
It was Sestito's first goal in a Philadelphia Flyers uniform. Sestito had scored two prior goals with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Lightning had the momentum throughout the second period. The puck bounced in crazy ways, breaking up scoring chances, and Stamkos broke in on a two-on-one break, only to be foiled by Kimmo Timonen.
The Lightning continued to battle around Bryzgalov's goal crease. Adam Hall found a puck sitting right in the crease ready for the easy tap-in goal. Bryzgalov stretched across with the paddle and denied Hall, keeping the Flyers ahead 1-0 after the second period.
Bryzgalov got right to work in the third. Stamkos dropped the puck into the middle of the ice, with Brian Lee trailing the play. Lee's shot deflected off of Bryzgalov's pad and the rebound went to Cory Conacher got a few cracks at the puck, and while on his backside and waving his arm in the air, Bryzgalov got just enough of the puck to keep it out, much to the delight of the home crowd.
"When we needed it, Bryz was outstanding," Laviolette said.
Midway through the third, Conacher drove down the right wing and fired a weak backhand shot on goal. In the process, Bruno Gervais clipped Conacher down to the ice and in the process, he bowled over Bryzgalov. After a scary moment on the ice, Bryzgalov got back to his feet and stayed in the game. No penalty was assessed on the play
"I guess you always want the call," Laviolette said. "I don't know if there was concern, but I guess disappointment."
Benoit Pouliot scored his third goal of the season after the Lightning worked the puck on the forecheck. Teddy Purcell battled low in the zone, outworking the Flyers. Purcell put the puck right on Pouliot's tape to tie it up at 1.
Not just a minute later, Max Talbot rushed up the left wing, fed the puck through the middle off of the stick of Ruslan Fedotenko, landing right on Sestito's stick. Sestito juked to the backhand, scoring on Lindback to give the Flyers the lead back.
"It's great that Tom chipped in like that," Laviolette said. "He's a big body that goes up and down the wing and he does a lot for a club."
"For him to get the two goals tonight has got to make him feel good and make us feel good as well."
The ensuing draw brought more fisticuffs. Talbot and Lecavalier dropped the mitts. Mostly a standoff, Lecavalier scored the takedown. Lecavalier then fired a few more punches after Talbot was dropped to the ice.
The Flyers held the fort even after Braydon Coburn took a late holding the stick penalty. The Lightning only managed 22 shots in the game, having 18 of their shots blocked. The Lightning also did not score a power play goal, coming into the game leading the league in that respect.
"It was a really hard fought game from start to finish," Laviolette added. "Not a lot of room out there for either team in any zone."
The largely defensive struggle ended with 21 saves by Ilya Bryzgalov, who picked up the second star of the game.
The Flyers are now on a two game winning streak moving into Thursday's tussle with the Florida Panthers.