Mistakes add up: Flyers fall to Lightning, 5-3
It hasn’t happened often but that didn’t make the sting any less painful.
For only the third time in all of March, the Philadelphia Flyers lost a regulation game when they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-3 on Monday night.
The team has been riding a wave of consistently good play in the month, accumulating an impressive 10-3-1 record in that span. Largely focused on their defensive abilities, the team managed to hold opponents to two goals or less in 11 of the 14 games.
Unfortunately, the team was caught off-guard by the Lightning in a few instances and had some costly mental errors that ultimately decided the game.
The most egregious of which came on a Matt Carle turnover with less than three minutes left in the contest.
Carle accidentally played the puck off his own cage, which created a fortuitous bounce that left Ilya Bryzgalov out of position. With no obstacle in his way, JT Wyman placed the puck into the open goal.
It proved to be the game-winner after Scott Hartnell brought the Flyers within one 90 seconds later.
While Carle’s miscue is an image that will be burned in many minds, it doesn’t accurately depict why the team lost the game.
The team’s troubles began long before that.
Eight minutes into the game, Tampa Bay opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal when Daniel Briere tried to execute a deke at center ice. Ryan Malone stripped him of the puck and moved it the other way uncontested.
The Flyers have now allowed their opponents to score the game’s first goal in 16 of their last 22 contests.
Philadelphia’ specialty teams problems didn’t end there.
With six seconds remaining in the period, Briere was called for interference. Prior to the end of the period, Tampa Bay superstar Steven Stamkos increased the Lightning lead to two when he blasted a shot from the point.
Though the team was down by two, they battled back in the second where they largely dominated play.
The Flyers outshot the Lightning 16-2 and tied the game at two with goals from Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read.
Read’s goal was particularly impressive and tied him with Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog for the rookie lead.
It seemed like the Flyers were in the perfect position to strike.
In several of their more recent games, the team has displayed that few leads are too great for them to overcome.
Considering that they had tied the game and were seemingly dominating a less than formidable opponent, it appeared as though the Flyers were going to pull ahead in the third.
Unfortunately, their costly mistakes reemerged and with them went the game.
At the start of the period, Martin St. Louis snuck behind the Flyers defense and was sprung on a breakaway by a beautiful outlet pass from Tim Wallace.
St. Louis took advantage of the opportunity in the same fashion as Malone by roofing a shot over Bryzgalov to regain the Lightning's lead.
From there, Carle’s mistake late in the third cemented the final.
Obviously, the loss is going to hurt the Flyers chances of climbing the standings.
When asked about the team’s desire to win the division, head coach Peter Laviolette made it clear that the team approaches the remainder of the season on a game-by-game basis.
However, he made sure to make it perfectly clear that two big points were lost on Monday night and that, that fact wasn’t lost on his team.
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