Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy earned his second straight shutout victory today as the Lightning defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 in Philly.
The Tampa Bay Lightning seem to be facing obstacle after obstacle on their current road trip, and no…we aren’t talking about their opponents. It almost seems as if every other game another name is being added to the team’s ever-growing injury list. Unfortunately, today’s game is no different.
Just before the start of tonight’s game at the Wells Fargo Center between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers, it was announced that, despite taking pregame warm-ups with the team, Lightning forward Brian Boyle is considered day-to-day with an Upper Body Injury.
In light of this information, Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper elected to go with his 11/7 lineup. Lightning defenseman Luke Witkowski would find himself on the ice in Brian Boyle’s stead tonight against the Flyers.
Tampa Bay Lightning
When you look at things on paper, you would assume the Tampa Bay Lightning were outplayed in the first period. Thankfully for the Lightning, this isn’t exactly the whole truth.
The Lightning gave the Flyers a total of three chances with the man advantage in the first period. Certainly, this opened the door for all kinds of trouble, but the Lightning penalty kill was able to shut the Flyers down and keep things on an even keel.
Ironically enough, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning power play that broke the ice and opened up the scoring in Philly. At 13:06 in the first period, Flyers forward Sean Couturier would find himself with a one-way ticket to the sin bin for cross checking Lightning alternate captain Ryan Callahan.
Just under a minute and a half later, Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson would pull off the fake out of the century. Johnson would bring the puck through the neutral zone before handing it off to Valtteri Filppula just inside the zone. As Filppula skated forward, he passed the puck over to a waiting Alex Killorn.
Killorn would skillfully fake out Lightning defenseman Wayne Simmonds and make his way in front of Flyers netminder Steve Mason. Alex Killorn would completely fool Mason, who was sure Killer was going to take the shot, and pass the puck over to Tyler Johnson who had a wide-open net in front of him.
Needless to say, Johnson would fire off the shot and open the scoring for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Johnson’s Power Play goal is his sixth goal of the season.
If there were any flaws the Tampa Bay Lightning had in the first period of play, it came down to two things. The most important of these was the amount of time the Bolts spent in the box. If the Lightning continue to open the door for the Flyers, eventually, they are going to slam the door behind them.
The second, and only slightly less important, it the amount of shots on goal they would take in the first period. Getting outshot 12-6 by the Flyers really isn’t giving your team a real opportunity to put the puck in the back of the net. We’ve always been a proponent of quality over quantity, but there are limits to everything.
In the second period of play, the Lightning would make up some room in terms of shots on goal, but they would still find themselves in the penalty box more than one would’ve hoped. In fact, the final Lightning penalty almost cost the team big in the final minutes of the period.
After Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr was sent to the box for two minutes for Holding the Stick of Flyers forward Travis Konecny, the Flyers would really bring the business to Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy. On the bright side, Vasy was able to hold strong. The bad news, the Bolts will start the third period on the PK.
The second period wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Tampa Bay Lightning, though. Vladislav Namestnikov and Ondrej Palat pull another sweet fake on the Flyers that turns out incredibly beneficial for the Bolts.
Namestnikov would come speeding through the zone with the puck. Just as he made his way into the offensive zone, he would drop the puck back to Ondrej Palat. Palat would fake a shot and send Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto spinning to the ice as he made his way in front of the net.
Once Palat found himself with a clear shot, he pulled back his stick and put the puck past Mason and into the back of the net to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead over the Flyers.
Now, considering the fact the Lightning started off the third period on the penalty kill, it’s pretty clear they would have to come out of the tunnel ready to bring the fight to the Flyers. Thankfully, this is just what the Lightning did as they successfully killed off the 47 seconds left on the Sustr penalty from the second.
Speaking of offensive aggression, the Lightning wasted no time in the third period extending their lead over the Flyers. Ondrej Palat would get his stick on the puck in the Lightning zone. From there, Palat would send the puck flying all the way done the ice to Jonathan Drouin, who was already almost through the neutral zone.
Drouin had just one man on him as he flew down the ice and in front of Mason. Drouin shoots the puck and it flies into the back of the net to extend the Lightning’s lead to 3-0. This would serve as Jonathan Drouin’s third goal of the season. The lone assist on the goal would go to Palat.
This would essentially be the end of the scoring for both teams. Of course, this isn’t for lack of effort. The Lightning and the Flyers would end the game in a 4-on-4 situation where the Flyers would put some pressure on the Bolts. Fortunately, Andrei Vasilevskiy would be able to hold strong.
With the Lightning’s 3-0 victory at the Wells Fargo Center today, Andrei Vasilevskiy would earn his second-straight shutout. Vasy’s last shutout was on November 14th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as the Lightning defeated the New York Islanders 4-0.
Needless to say, Vasilevskiy earned his first star of the game. Over the course of his last few starts, Vasilevskiy has proven he deserves his spot alongside Ben Bishop between the pipes for the Lightning.
After the final buzzer sounded to end today’s game, there are some Lightning fans, we included, who wish the Tampa Bay Lightning could take a pass in Nashville and head home. This has nothing to do with the Lightning being unable to defeat the Predators, but more so to do with the number of injuries the Bolts have suffered as of late.
As we mentioned previously, it was announced this afternoon that Brian Boyle would be out of the lineup and was listed as day-to-day with an Upper-Body Injury. This is in addition to Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who is currently out long-term after undergoing surgery to repair a lateral tear in his right meniscus.
Boyle also joins Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, who is currently listed as day-to-day with an Upper-Body Injury. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the injuries. There has been no word as to the status of Lightning forward Brayden Point, who played just over four minutes in today’s encounter before leaving the ice.
Point never returned to the ice after taking a nasty stick to the face. It’s safe to say he’s going to have trouble eating for a bit. Considering how much firepower the Lightning are already down at this point, a player like Brayden Point is not someone the Lightning wants to be injured.
Ultimately, the Lightning were outshot 32-18 by the Philadelphia Flyers. Thanks to a stellar performance by Andrei Vasilevskiy and the efficiency of the Lightning forwards, the Bolts were able to stay strong. This is one of the many instances where quality over quantity has paid off for the Bolts.
As we mentioned before, the Tampa Bay Lightning are now headed to the Bridgestone Arena where they will come face-to-face with the Nashville Predators. The Predators will face off with the Sr. Louis Blues later on tonight before taking on the Lightning. Hopefully, the Lightning will be able to finish off the road trip on a high note and bring home another two points.