Don’t poke hockey’s version of a sleeping bear, especially when he’s just gone through a nightmarish worst loss of the season.
Coming off a 6-0 loss, the Tampa Bay Lightning were in no mood to fool around with the Flyers on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.
They shook off an early Philadelphia lead and ended a five-game winless streak with authority, posting a 5-2 victory.
Tampa’s five-game winless streak was its longest since 2014. The recent skid was capped by the 6-0 trouncing from Carolina.
Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov led the way for the Lightning each with a pair of goals. Morgan Frost and new Flyer forward Brendan Lemieux scored goals for the Flyers.
The Lightning’s highly rated power play produced Tampa’s first two goals as well as their fifth.
“Our five-on-five play for a lot of the game was good,” coach John Tortorella said. “You can’t take six penalties. You can’t take three in the first period. Most of them in the offensive zone.
“But a lot of our checking, five-on-five. . .we had some good chances. We just can’t freakin’ score.”
After Frost gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 5:52 of the first period, finishing off a Joel Farabee feed with a one-timer past goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Lightning came alive.
Tampa took advantage of some questionable penalties taken by the Flyers.
First, with Tampa Bay up a man, Killorn tapped in a pinpoint pass from Kucherov at 7:38. Then, with Farabee in the box from a first-period infraction, Kucherov returned the favor with a long shot past Carter Hart just 34 seconds into the second period.
The Lightning made it 3-1 at 8:46. Russ Colton scored. Then Killorn notched his second after Hart slipped and fell behind his net, scrambling too late to get up properly in time for the Lightning forward’s shot at 10:49.
Lemieux, acquired from Los Angeles at the trade deadline, cut the deficit to 4-2 with a goal at 12:40. It was his first as a Flyer and broke a 37-game goal drought.
In the third period, a five-minute spearing penalty to Tony DeAngelo for putting his stick in Corey Perry’s lower midsection led to Kucherov’s second goal with 2:22 to play.
Did DeAngelo’s temper get the best of him?
“I haven’t seen the clip to see what happened,’’ Tortorella said. “The guys in the room said it was pretty obvious. But that’s the line you walk. As far as going over the edge, I want him to have his personality to have that competitiveness. There were a couple guys I wish that competitiveness would rub off on them. I haven’t seen it but I think he may have crossed the line.”
DeAngelo also received a game misconduct on the play, so it’s a good bet the NHL department of player safety will issue some form of supplemental discipline with a suspension and/or fine.
From DeAngelo’s perspective, he was just trying to get some retribution for an earlier indescretion and maybe his aim was just a little off.
“I did what I had to do,” DeAngelo said. “I’m ready to go (fight) whenever. There were a couple of calls there. We didn’t want to give them any power plays. We have to find a way to kill those. It wasn’t good enough.”
Handing Tampa unnecessary power plays is just a recipe for failure.
“They have one of the best PPs in the league,” York said. “We weren’t able to get the kill. I think that was probably the biggest difference in the game, special teams.”
>Sanheim, Farabee briefly benched
Tortorella, unhappy with the play of Travis Sanheim and Farabee in the opening period, did not play the defenseman or forward in the second period. Both returned in the third.
“I don’t know where I go there,” Tortorella said. As for putting them back in, he added: “Trying to see if they would answer the proper way. I have to watch the tape.”
>Smolek signed to contract
The Flyers announced the signing of defenseman Will Zmolek to a one-year entry-level contract beginning with the 2023-24 season, according to general manager Chuck Fletcher.
Zmolek will report to Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League (AHL) for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.
The 23-year-old native of Rochester, Minnesota served as an alternate captain and collected four goals/21 points, 24 penalty minutes, two power-play goals, one shorthanded goal and one game-winning goal in 36 games this season with Bemidji State University of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
Zmolek led the Beavers in blocked shots (64), ranked third in assists, fourth in scoring, tied for fifth in power play goals and T-5th in power-play goals and was one of two players to net a shorthanded goal.
He was named CCHA’s Defenseman of the Month for December 2022 and Defenseman of the Week on Nov. 14, 2022.
Zmolek was also a 2023 Hobey Baker nominee and was named to the WCHA All-Academic Team following the 2020-21 season.
His father, Doug Zmolek, was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft and played eight seasons in the NHL (1992-2000) with San Jose, Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The Flyers continue their three-game road trip with game No. 2 at Carolina on Thursday night. . .The Flyers went with just 11 forwards for a second straight game. This created additional ice time for Owen Tippett, who’s been averaging better than 25 minutes in recent games. . .Flyers have lost 12 of their last 13 games vs. Tampa Bay.