Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Flyers Shutdown High Scoring Lightning

Flyers celebrating
The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 tonight in a spirited contest.

The Flyers played one of their strongest games of the season defensively as they shut down the highest scoring offense in the league. Tampa Bay came into tonight's contest having scored 39 goals in just 8 games averaging 4.9 goals per game. And the last time Tampa Bay faced Philadelphia they scored their average 5 goals against the Flyers, winning 5-1. But not tonight.

The Flyers were everywhere. They put pressure on the Lightning every time they processed the puck in all three zones and were very strong on the forecheck as well; Zac Rinaldo led the way with 5 hits. Rinaldo also helped light a fire underneath the team with his decisive victory in his 1st period fight with BJ Crombeen. Rinaldo beat Crombeen so badly that Crombeen had to leave the game, and didn't return.

Following a spirited yet scoreless 1st period, the Flyers played near perfect 2nd period. They held Tampa Bay to only 5 shots on goal, while not taking any penalties and were able to get on the board. Philadelphia opened the scoring when the unlikeliest source buried a nice backhander behind Tampa Bay goaltender Anders Lindback after receiving a perfect pass from Jake Voracek. Tonight was a night of firsts for the Flyers fourth liner and tough guy Tom Sestito. Sestito scored his first goal of the season on a beautiful forehand to backhand and first goal as a Flyer. It was also Sestito's first goal since December 26th 2010.

Sestito after scoring his 1st goal as a Flyer
Ilya Bryzgalov, who stopped 21 of 22 shots, played excellent all night as he helped the Flyers carry their lead into the 3rd period before Tampa Bay was finally able to put one past him. The Lightning scored their lone goal after they won a battle behind the Flyers net and Teddy Purcell got the puck to Benoit Pouliot, who ended Bryzgalov's shutout tying the game at 1, with 10:30 minutes left. 

But the Flyers didn't let the goal bring them down. They continued to pressure, especially in the offensive zone. And it was the fourth line again that put them on top. Max Talbot did a great job to get the puck to Ruslan Fedotenko, who made a perfect touch pass to none other than Tom Sestito and if it worked once, why not try it again. Sestito made the same forehand to backhand move and was once again successful putting the Flyers back on top. After the game when asked about using the same move to score twice, Sestito said, "I've got only one move, and I was hoping nobody else noticed that."  Sestito's night of firsts continued as it was his first 2 goal game of his career and later if became his first game winning goal.

Sestito scores the game winning goal
Following Tampa Bay's tying goal, the Flyers played in shut down mode as they held the Lightning over 9 minutes without a shot. Plus their penalty kill came up huge shutting down the leagues best PowerPlay unit with only 4 minutes remaining. The Flyers were a perfect 4 for 4 on the penalty kill tonight versus Tampa, who's PowerPlay percentage is an NHL high 36%.

Philadelphia was able to shut down Steven Stamkos, who's 8 game point streak came to an end and became the only team all season to keep Stamkos, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis all off the scoresheet.

The Flyers 2-1 victory puts them at 4-6 on the season.

Game Notes:
  • Philadelphia held Tampa Bay to a season low 22 shots on goal.
  • The Flyers blocked 18 shots, led by Braydon Coburn, who had 4.
  • Claude Giroux was held off the scoresheet and didn't register a shot, but played very well defensively as he blocked 2 shots and won 72% of his faceoffs in 23:00 minutes. 
  • Tye McGinn, playing on the first line with Danny Briere and Claude Giroux, registered a team high 4 shots. 
  • The Flyers were held to 2 goals or less for the 8th time this season out of 10 games. 
  • Tampa Bay was held without a PowerPlay goal for only the second time all season. 
  • Tonight was the first time Tampa Bay was held to less than 2 goals all season.
  • The Flyers outshot their opponent for only the third time this season (24-22).
  • Philadelphia improves to 3-1 at home (1-5 on the road). Their next 2 games are at home. 

For tonight's game highlights: CLICK HERE

Drop the Puck:
The Flyers will be back in action Thursday night when they host the Florida Panthers.

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