PHILADELPHIA – Just when it looked like the Flyers were set to absorb their third straight regulation-time home loss, lightning struck.
No, not the Tampa Bay Lightning kind. This was a rather stunning four-goal rally by the Flyers to erase a 5-1 deficit in Saturday afternoon’s game at the Wells Fargo Center.
In the third period, the Flyers got goals from Travis Konecny (10:24), Sean Couturier (11:29), Konecny again (15:58) and Wayne Simmonds (16:28) to tie the score.
According to the NHL statistical database, this was only the ninth time in league history a team has erased a four-goal deficit to tie a game in the final 10 minutes.
The game ended with a goal from Tampa’s Anthony Cirelli at 1:47 of overtime to give the Lightning a 6-5 win.
But the Flyers could at least take consolation from their stirring comeback. And they were able to finish their five-game homestand at 2-2-1.
Before the Flyers’ rally, it looked like the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning would be just too much for the Flyers.
Even without its No. 1 All-Star goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy (broken foot), the Tampa defense had no trouble turning aside the Flyers . . at least until the final 10 minutes.
Then the Flyers suddenly caught fire.
“It stinks that you have to come down to the last 10 minutes of the game and you’re down a couple goals,’’ Shayne Gostisbehere said after the game. “It (the rally) is definitely a positive to take away from the game. Never give up. We got a point out of it.
“I don’t think we had any business getting a point. But it showed the true grit of our team.’’
Claude Giroux seemed to have mixed feelings about his team’s performance.
“It definitely was fun to be able to come back from 5-1 with 10 minutes left,’’ he said. “I think we played a solid game. . .obviously a few mistakes here and there.’’
Goalie Calvin Pickard did his best filling in for the injured Brian Elliott (lower body) but the Lightning got to him early and often in building their 5-1 lead.
Typical of these was the third goal at 17:05 of the second, just 92 seconds after a James van Riemsdyk goal to get the Flyers on the board at 14:33
Brayden Point was simply left completely wide open by the defense pair of Radko Gudas and Ivan Provorov. Ryan Callahan slid a pass across and all Point had to do was shove the puck into the net.
That was the first of two goals by Point.
Yet all in all, Pickard sounded pretty happy with the way his team responded to the adversity of being four goals in the hole.
“It (the rally) was impressive,’’ he said. “The first couple periods we were a little snakebit but we stuck with it. Credit our guys, they didn’t quit, they came back, got four and we deserved better.’’
Tampa raced to a 2-0 lead in the second period, with Adam Erne scoring the first goal and setting up the second.
Erne connected on a power play at 6:02. It marked the 13th time in the first 20 games the Flyers have allowed the first goal of the contest (4-8-1).
The Flyers have allowed at least one power-play goal in 14 of their 20 games.
At 12:10, Erne found his way through an opening, then dished to Cedric Paquette for a short-side shot.
The Flyers finally broke through when van Riemsdyk pushed in the rebound of a Gostisbehere blast. Before that, the Flyers were two for their last 34 with the man advantage.
Giroux picked up an assist on the goal for his 700th NHL career point.
Giroux later took a bow and received a loud ovation from appreciative fans.
In the third period, the Flyers took consecutive penalties by Konecny and Giroux and the Lightning scored twice. Point scored his second goal to make it 5-1.
Giroux got a slashing penalty for knocking the stick out of Tampa defenseman Victor Hedman’s hands on an attempted shorthanded breakaway.
“I don’t know what happened,’’ Giroux said. “To be honest, everything happened pretty quick. It’s going to happen. It’s frustrating that they’re going on a five-on-three and they scored two goals.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol said JVR’s power-play goal was a pivotal point in the game.
“The guys relaxed a bit,’’ Hakstol said. “It doesn’t feel very good when you’re not putting the puck to the net on the power play.
“It doesn’t matter how many opportunities you’re getting, it’s about finishing, so we finally got one there and that lifted a pretty big weight.’’
Defenseman Christian Folin and forward Jori Lehtera were the healthy scratches. . .The Flyers are off until Wednesday when they travel to Buffalo to play the Sabres.