Early Lightning strikes lead to Flyers’ 7-0 loss

John Tortorella

      TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Lightning players don’t get mad, they just get even.

      After suffering a convincing 6-2 loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia on Feb. 27, Tampa Bay provided some payback on Saturday night, handing the visitors a 7-0 setback at Amalie Arena.

      It was the Flyers’ largest margin of defeat this season. Philadelphia also gave up three power-play goals, tying the most they’ve allowed this season.

      But here’s the thing: Whenever the Flyers have been beaten soundly this season, they seem to gather themselves and come back with a real good effort.

      Associate coach Brad Shaw, who basically took over behind the bench for head coach John Tortorella after he was tossed from the game for misconduct in the first period, agreed with that contention.

      “I will guarantee you that no one in that locker room is feeling good about anything we did tonight,” Shaw said. “I expect a great effort Tuesday (at home against San Jose) going forward.

      “This is one where we eat our humble pie, learn our lessons, we move on and get prepared for the next game. It was two points where we didn’t play close to how we would like to play and how we have to play at this time of year.”

      Tortorella did not make himself available for post-game comments.

      Tampa Bay scored four times in the first period and that pretty much decided the outcome. Starting goalie Sam Ersson was pulled in favor of Felix Sandstrom after the fourth goal was scored.

      The Flyers played such a disorganized first period that it eventually contributed to head coach John Tortorella getting tossed from the game.

      Tampa Bay scored those four unanswered goals, two of them on the power play against the Flyers’ No. 1 penalty kill unit, and looked much the better team.

      With Egor Zamula sidelined due to illness, the Flyers opted to go with just five defensemen and dressed 13 forwards, including newly acquired Denis Gurianov.

      Whether that unbalanced lineup led to the lopsided first period might be debatable. Fact is, the Flyers didn’t look ready to play. It certainly didn’t look like the team that hung a 2-1 defeat on Florida just two nights earlier.

      The five-man setup made for some long worknights for Travis Sanheim and Cam York. Sanheim logged 28:49 and York 25:32, well above their nightly average.

      “A lot of ice out there for us,” said defenseman Ronnie Attard. “We knew we had to keep it (shifts) short. Those two penalties I took didn’t help.”

       Defenseman Victor Hedman, who had two goals for the game, kicked off the parade with a shot from the top of the slot that made its way through an Attard screen at 1:49 for a 1-0 lead.

      Nicholas Paul scored on the power play at 5:55, then Conor Sheary’s shot squeezed past Sam Ersson at 9:10. After Brayden Point’s power-play goal at 10:49, Tortorella had seen enough. Apparently upset with the reversal of a tripping call against Attard, Tortorella said the magic word to referee Wes McCauley and that was enough to get him banished to the locker room. Shaw, along with assistant coach Rocky Thompson, ran things the rest of the way.

      It also meant the end of Ersson’s night of work. He was replaced by Sandstrom, who gave up a goal to Anthony Duclair at 15:42 of the second to make it 5-0 and two more in the third.

      Hedman scored again at 7:33 of the third period. Then Brandon Hagel connected on the power play to account for the final margin.

      “It just wasn’t our night tonight,” captain Sean Couturier said. “Some bad bounces early and then we got caught in some penalties (a total of 43 minutes). Gave momentum to their top guys and they made us pay.”

      Did the Tortorella ejection impact the team’s performance?

      “I don’t know if it really affected us,” Couturier said. “We were down four at that point. There’s not much to say, it was just a bad game for us. We just have to forget about it and move on.”

      Garnet Hathaway took a 10-minute misconduct and sounded frustrated after the game, especially with the officiating.

      “Just make sure it’s one (bad game) in the whole season,” Hathaway said of the debacle. “They’re a good team, they played well tonight. They got an early lead and we were fighting our way back the whole time.”

      >Tampa celebrates 20th anniversary of first Cup

      It’s pretty hard to believe that Tampa Bay’s first Stanley Cup happened 20 years ago.

      The team celebrated the two-decade anniversary of that momentous event with a big ceremony prior to Saturday night’s game against the Flyers.

      On hand were nearly all the players from that team, along with  Tortorella, who was the coach of that outfit.

      Ironically, Tampa’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals that season was none other than the Flyers, who were coached by Ken Hitchcock.

      The two coaches got into a war of words, with an exasperated Tortorella finally warning Hitchcock – via the media – to “shut yer yap!”

      Tortorella got the last laugh in that series as the Lightning went on to a 2-1 victory in Game 7. Then, just to rub a little salt in the wounds, ex-Flyer Ruslan Fedotenko scored a pair of goals in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final vs. Calgary to fuel the win and give Tampa its first championship.

      At Saturday morning’s skate, Tortorella was asked if he was looking forward to the activities.

      “I’ve had enough of the ceremony,” he said. “It’s going to be all-night long.”

      However, Tortorella did receive a nice ovation at pre-game ceremonies.

      >Short shots

      Couturier got into a rare fight with Tampa’s Matt Dumba in the second period, possibly in an attempt to get a fire lit under his team, which was trailing 4-0 at the time. . .The Flyers’ Bobby Brink was a healthy scratch. . .Tampa Bay defenseman Darren Raddysh finished the game with five assists.

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About Wayne Fish 2473 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.