TAMPA – This was billed as a “measuring stick’’ game and even though the Flyers dropped a disappointing 5-3 decision on Saturday at Amelie Arena to one of the NHL’s best teams, they came away with some positive feelings.
For one, they outplayed the Lightning for the final 30 minutes and several times came within tying the score at 4-4 before Nikita Kucherov’s empty-net goal at the finish.
“I think for the last two periods we played the way we wanted to,’’ said Claude Giroux, who scored after starting goalie Carter Hart was pulled to get the Flyers to within 4-3 with 3:45 to play.
“We were a little more aggressive. It was an intense game. You’re down 4-1 seven minutes left, I think we gave a pretty good push.’’
Sean Couturier had a couple good scoring chances in the closing minutes and indicated the Flyers should take heart from this performance.
“They (the Lightning) have a lot of offense, a lot of skill,’’ Couturier said. “On our side, we just have to play our way, the right way and we’ll get the wins we need.’’
Ivan Provorov believed the Flyers could have won this game.
“After it was 3-0, I think it was all us,’’ he said. “We had control of the game, we had the puck. I think if it wasn’t for their goalie (Andrei Vasilevskiy) we would have won the game.’’
Tampa has won a franchise-record 11 straight games on home ice and 10 straight overall, which ties a team record.
Coach Alain Vigneault likes the way his team stacked up against a loaded Tampa lineup.
“We played against probably the best goaltender in the league,’’ Vigneault noted. “That’s probably the best group of forwards I’ve seen any team have.
“I thought we were right there. We didn’t give them much as far as scoring chances, didn’t give them a lot of shots (the Flyers held a 33-24 advantage there). We certainly created enough to be in this game.’’
Next up for the Flyers is a home-and-home series with Columbus, which is battling with the Flyers one of the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference.
Carter Hart lamented not being able to stop the Lightning’s fourth goal by Brayden Point midway through the third period. If not for that goal. . .
“We competed hard, battled back, never gave up,’’ he said. “I mean we really fought right to the end there. We know they’re a good team, they’ve been hot right now so I thought we matched up pretty well against them tonight.’’
James van Riemsdyk thought the overall performance was encouraging.
“I think we’ve playing well lately here as a team,’’ he said. “The big games keep coming for us, the games with Columbus mean a lot, they’re right there with us in the standings.’’
If the Flyers can play the Blue Jackets the way they played Tampa for the final 30 minutes on Saturday, they should be in good shape.
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