Bill Meltzer: Flyers-Tampa Wrapup: Philly Strikes Lightning Seven Times


Buoyed by a five-goal explosion in the second period and a 3-for-4 performance on the power play, the Philadelphia Flyers broke a streak of six straight losses against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 7-3 blowout win at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night.

Philadelphia completed a four-game homestand with three wins to move to 17-19-7 on the season.

The Eastern Conference-leading Lightning, looking sluggish after playing just once in a five-night span, fell to 27-13-4 and saw a three-game winning streak come to a resounding end.

Every Flyers player but Sean Couturier, Vincent Lecavalier, Andrew MacDonald and Nick Schultz recorded at least one point in the game.

The sum of the damage: Mark Streit led the point-scoring bonanza with a power play goal and two power play assists. NHL leading scorer Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn each had a power play goal and an assist. Chris VandeVelde notched an even strength goal and an assist. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds each had two assists.

R.J. Umberger chipped in one goal, as did Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Michael Raffl. Braydon Coburn (later injured in the game), Matt Read, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, and Scott Laughton all contributed one assist apiece.

Making his second NHL regular season start and first home start, Rob Zepp played a solid game on a tough night for any goaltender. He went long stretches without any activity in the first two periods and yielded two goals that no goaltender could stop. In the third period, he stopped 12 of 13 shots to finish the night with 21 saves on 24 shots and his second NHL win.

Tampa Bay went 2-for-3 on the power play, generating goals by Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan. Sandwiched in the middle was a crazy goal by Brian Boyle that bounced about 10 feet in the air and wound up in the net.

With the Bolts playing the front half of back-to-back games, head coach Jon Cooper elected to tab Evgeni Nabokov as the starter. The Russian veteran was pulled early in the second period after four goals on 13 shots. Usual starter Ben Bishop entered in relief, stopping nine of 12 shots.

Tampa sustained a couple of its own significant injuries in the game: key defenseman Victor Hedman (eight shifts) and NHL All-Star Tyler Johnson (12 shifts, 9:24 of ice time) left the game early and did not return. 1ST PERIOD

Read got the game’s first shot on goal, about two minutes into the tilt. Nabokov made the save but left out a long rebound that Nick Schultz was not able to get to before being checked.

Zepp saw his first shot at 5:22, stopping Johnson in close from the right side and covering the puck.

The Flyers grabbed a 1-0 lead at 6:12. On a shift that started with Voracek hitting the blueline with speed, Giroux worked the puck back to Luke Schenn at center point with Chris VandeVelde entering the ice on a line change and driving at the net. VandeVelde deflected Schenn’s shot past Nabokov.

Officially, VandeVelde’s third goal of the season was assisted by Luke Schenn (third assist) and Giroux (33rd assist).

The Flyers held a 6-1 shot advantage through the first seven-plus minutes of the period. Finally, Laughton snapped a shot on net at 7:52 after skating around in front for Philly’s seventh shot.

Michael Del Zotto tripped Brian Boyle behind the Flyers’ net at 9:09. Tampa received the game’s first power play. Shots were still 7-1 at this point. Early in the penalty kill, Zepp made a quality stop on Alex Killorn from the bottom of the right circle. Late in the advantage, Tampa tied the game.

Stamkos got open in one of his sweet spots on the ice — the left circle near the hash mark — took a pass from Johnson and beat Zepp to knot the game at 1-1. The goal, Stamkos’ 23rd of the season, was assisted by Johnson and Anton Strålman at 10:26.

VandeVelde had a nice shot block up high in the defensive zone as time ticked down to about six minutes left in the first period. The play ended some pressure in the Philadelphia zone. Moments later, Luke Schenn did a nice job of keeing Valtteri Filppula from getting stick position to receive a pass and broke up a play.

With 4:17 left in the first period, the Flyers’ top line went off-side on a potential 2-on-1 rush.

The Flyers re-took the lead at 2-1 with a line rush goal at 16:15. Read carried the puck into the zone with speed up the left side and backhanded a pass across to R.J. Umberger off the skate off Strålman. Umberger’s shot deflected under the crossbar off the stick of either Nabokov or Mark Barberio. Already a good goal, the puck then came out of the net an Nabokov juggled it right back into the net.

Shots on goal were 10-5 Flyers. Faceoffs were 11-10 Flyers. 2ND PERIOD

Coburn suffered a lower-body injury blocking a Nikita Kucherov shot midway thorough the first period — taking the puck off the left foot — and did not return for the second period despite finishing the period (10 shifts, 6:49 of ice time). Meanwhile, the period saw the Flyers inflict major carnage on the scoreboard.

One minute into the second period, Matt Carle was called for hooking. The Flyers went to their first power play. The Flyers made it count.

Using one of their most successful puck rotations, the Flyers worked the puck around the umbrella from Giroux to Streit and from Streit to Voracek. A wide open Voracek blasted home the puck from the top of the right circle at 1:45. The goal, Voracek’s 17th, was assisted by Streit (25th assist of the season) and Giroux (34th of the season, second of the game).

The Flyers grabbed a commanding 4-1 lead at 2:36 on a sequence that began with Del Zotto carrying the mail up the left side and putting the puck at the net.

The Flyers reclaimed it in front. Bellemare moved in front and deflected home a VandeVelde shot. Bellemare’s fourth goal of the season was assisted byVandeVelde (fifth assist of the season) and Del Zotto (eighth assist).

Bishop came in to relieve Nabokov at this point. Nabokov stopped nine of 13 shots in 22:36.

The Couturier line put on a very impressive forechecking shift spent deep in Tampa territory. The shift finally ended in a Tampa penalty, as Carle drew a high sticking double-minor at 6:49.

Philly made very quick work of the front end of the power play to make it 5-1.

Every Flyers player touched the puck in the sequence, which ended with a wide open Mark Streit scoring from the right circle for his fifth goal of season at 7:02. The assists went to Brayden Schenn (17th of the season) and Wayne Simmonds (11th of the seaso).

The Flyers got 1:08 worth of a five-on-three at 7:54 on a high-sticking minor on Johnson. With 25 seconds left on the 5-on-3, the Flyers opened up a 6-1 lead.

Brayden Schenn buried a right circle shot upstairs for his 10th goal of the year. Streit (26th of the season, second of the game) and Voracek (35th of the season) got the assists at 8:37.

The Flyers’ second power play unit was sent out for the remaining power play time They did not score.

Zepp saw just his sixth shot of the game at 10:06 of the middle frame. He swallowed up a center point shot without a rebound.

The Flyers tacked an extra point onto their touchdown’s worth of goal output on a line rush goal. Scott Laughton fed a nice backhand pass to a wide open Michael Raffl on the doorstep. Raffl’s 11th goal of the second was assisted by Laughton (fourth assist) and Wayne Simmonds (12th assist, second of the game) at 15:01.

Tampa got a goal right back with 4:37 left in the period to make it 7-2.

Brian Boyle’s shot was deflected high in the air off the stick of Streit and eluded the very high stick of Brenden Morrow. Tough luck for Zepp on that one. Boyle’s eighth goal of the season was assisted by Cedric Paquette (5th assist) and Strålman (18th assist, second of the game) at 15:23. The goal stood after a video review.

Streit received a hooking penalty at 19:41. The Bolts took 1:42 of carryover power play time into the third period.

Shots on goal were 13-6 Flyers (23-11 Flyers through two periods). Faceoffs were 13-10 Lightning (23-21 Lightning through two periods). 3RD PERIOD

At 1:20 of the period, Tampa cut the deficit to 7-3 on a power play goal by Callahan on a shot from the right hash marks. Callahan’s 13th goal of the season was assisted by Jonathan Drouin (16th assist of the season ) and Filppula (22nd assist of the season).

Bishop made his best stop of the game, denying a wide-open Giroux from close range with 13:43 left in the period to keep the deficit at four goals.

With the Flyers holding an insurmountable lead, play got sloppy over the middle stages of the period. There was a lot of open ice and turnovers.

Tampa got its third power play of the game with 5:57 left on a Simmonds hooking penalty. After the whistle, a scrum between Andrew MacDonald and Brenden Morrow turned into a lopsided fight. Morrow is a lot better — and more experienced — fighter than MacDonald, so the outcome was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

With MacDonald in the box for five minutes and Coburn injured, the Flyers were down to four defensemen for most of the remainder of the game.

With 4.7 seconds left to go, Zepp cleanly gloved a Carle shot for his 21st and final save of the night.

Shots in the third period were 13-2 for Tampa (25-24 Flyers for the game). Faceoffs were 8-8 (31-29 Tampa for the game). POSTGAME NOTES AND QUOTES

* The Flyers will have an 11:30 a.m. practice on Tuesday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ. On Wednesday, the team has a road game against the Washington Capitals. The next night, Philly plays host to the Vancouver Canucks at the Wells Fargo Center.

* With his three-point game and three power play points, Flyers defenseman Mark Streit jumped up to a tie for 4th among NHL D-men in points (31) & tie for 3rd in PP points (16).

* Jakub Voracek is now four points ahead (17 goals, 35 assists, 52 points) of Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin in the NHL’s Art Ross Trophy race. During the game, linemate Claude Giroux temporarily tied Voracek for the NHL assist lead but Voracek’s helper on Brayden Schenn’s power play goal put him one assist ahead of Giroux again (35 to 34).

* Brayden Schenn’s goal broke a 15-game drought for him. He had a two-goal game in the Flyers’ overtime loss in Columbus on Dec. 9. Since then, he had zero goals and six assists.

* The Flyers’ seven different goal-scorers was the most for the club in one game since eight different Philadelphia players tallied in a 9-2 win over Columbus on Nov. 5, 2011, per the Elias Sports Bureau. The last time the Flyers had a five-goal period was the third period of a 5-4 win over Columbus on Dec. 19, 2013.

* The likable, witty and articulate Zepp addressed the media for over 14 minutes after the game. Everyone else’s interviews were finished and Zepp was still going strong. Between the likes of Zepp, Andrew Gordon and Blair Jones, those who have covered the Phantoms and Flyers this season have been spoiled.

* Rob Zepp on his preparations for the game with Flyers’ goaltending coach Jeff Reese: “We did a lot of video before the game, me and Reeser. Just looking at their tendencies and they’re an explosive if not the most explosive teams in the league. We identified a lot of their players and the tendencies that they have and the key tonight was to be patient because even if they penetrate to the middle of the ice they’re still looking for something else so you really have to hold your feet and I tried to do that as best as I could tonight.”

* Zepp on his second NHL start: “You get the first one out of your way and then right when I got the call to come up here it was a different feeling a different level of preparedness. It was just the overwhelming emotion of working so long towards that opportunity was so overwhelming no matter what I did it was tough to suppress those types of feelings and that’s why I said that about the first ten minutes of the last game but tonight coming in I’ve been through that and I was ready to go and felt very comfortable right from the start of the game.”

* Zepp on whether it’s a different sort of challenge to go long stretches without seeing a shot:

“Yeah especially with a team like that you’re expecting a lot of shots but we came out great and were able to take it to them early. I’ve played a lot of hockey games and I’ve been through games that happen that way and like in Winnipeg it was the opposite they were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at me in the first period so the game had a bit of a different feel to it. But, yeah, I’ve played games like that before, lots of them and you just have to focus one shot at a time.”

* Zepp on all the attention paid to his age: “33 is the new 83!”

* Zepp’s wife was in attendance at the game, thanks to some last-second babysitting logistics for their young daughter and son. On Sunday, the Zepps’ soon-to-be three-year-old daughter Madelyn told a stranger at a Disney on Ice show at the PPL Center in Allentown, “My daddy is in the NHL!”

* Craig Berube on the Flyers limiting Tampa to 11 shots through 40 minutes after holding Boston to 18 shots (13 shots over the final 53 minutes): “That’s where it all starts for me. I thought we defended really well. You have to defend well against that team. They’re the highest scoring team in the league. So they came with a lot of speed, I thought our defense did a good job. Good gaps, forwards backchecked hard, we forced turnovers and we actually caught them a few times and got some odd man rushes and some attacks the other way because of it.”

* Berube on the third period: “I think it’s human nature to sit back a little bit… you sit back with that team they come with speed they’re aggressive and they have a lot of skill out there so they had some chances.”

* Brayden Schenn on the biggest key to the Flyers’ power play success in this game: ”

“Puck movement, just keeping it simple and getting pucks to the net. I don’t think we did anything crazy or fancy than we normally do. I think we got some bounces tonight, some shots on net and pucks were going in.”

* Chris VandeVelde on his goal: “I just came on the ice, there was kind of a line change there. I saw Giroux give it back to [Luke] Schenn and I just went straight to the net and Schenn got it through and made a good shot. I just tipped it on my back hand and beat the goalie.”

*VandeVelde on the importance of getting traffic in front: ” We have to get bodies to the net, shoot the puck no matter where you are on the ice and who knows? I think that is very evident with our two goals. They weren’t pretty but they got the job done.”

* R.J. Umberger on his goal: “Coby made a great break out pass to me through the neutral zone. I was able to pull up and find Reader going up the side with a lot of speed. We attacked the zone and made a play to the middle. The puck found a way to come all the way to me. There was kind of no room on my backhand. I was just trying to put the puck on net and got a lucky bounce over his stick and it went in.”

* Ray Emery, in response to a question if he was disappointed or angry at the decision not to have him start against Tampa after Steve Mason’s injury: “You always want to be in there and want to contribute. I want the team to do well, and I can’t control when I play. Not playing just gives motivation to get better and contribute on another night.”

* Emery on being glad for fellow goalie Zepp: “We are close in age. I played against Zepp in juniors. I know that’s a long road. I know personally, I played the game for a while and he’s played it longer that I have. I can’t imagine what it feels like to finally get a chance in the NHL because that’s what you dream of as a kid. I’m happy for him.”

* Emery on his own season to date: “I think I have a clear role here. Its more of a complement off of Mason. Im trying to put together some solid games; he needs a break. I feel okay about it. Obviously I want to be in there when I can. I think its a what have you done for me lately kind of thing for the next time I get in there.”

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