Flyers, Lightning clash in Tampa
Two teams in desperate need of positive momentum will meet Monday at Tampa Bay Times Forum, as the Lightning host the Philadelphia Flyers in the season-series finale.
The Flyers and Lightning enter this third and final meeting of the season separated by only two points in the Eastern Conference standings. Philadelphia is in 11th place with 27 points, leaving the Flyers four points shy of a playoff spot. The Lightning are just two behind Philly in the East's 12th spot.
The clubs have split a pair of meetings so far in 2013 with Tampa Bay notching a 5-1 home win on Jan. 27 and the Flyers posting a 2-1 regulation victory on Feb. 5 in Philly. The Bolts have won seven of 10 overall and three straight in Tampa.
Both the Flyers and Lightning enter Monday coming off wins, but neither team has won consecutive games in weeks. Philadelphia last recorded back-to-back victories on Feb. 18 and 20, while Tampa hasn't strung together two wins in a row since Feb. 16 and 19.
Philadelphia won for the second time in three games on Friday, salvaging the finale of an important home-and-home series with New Jersey. The Devils recorded a 5-2 win Wednesday on home ice, but the Flyers earned a 2-1 shootout decision in their home portion.
Claude Giroux scored the winner in the shootout to help the Flyers grab the extra point against their Atlantic Division rivals. In the second round, Giroux beat Johan Hedberg through the five-hole and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped David Clarkson's attempt. After Danny Briere was stopped, Patrik Elias missed the net on the final try as the Flyers recorded their first-ever shootout win over the Devils.
Maxime Talbot scored in the first period and Bryzgalov finished the game with 27 saves for the Flyers.
"We needed to win a hockey game tonight," said Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette. "It was something that had to be done. We had to give ourselves a fighting chance and credit to the guys because we came out, played a smart game, played a hard game and ended up with two points."
The Flyers will try to end a three-game road losing streak on Monday. The club is just 4-11-0 as the visiting team in 2013 and hasn't won on the road since beating Pittsburgh on Feb. 20.
Tampa Bay has also won two of its last three and is coming off Saturday's win over visiting Carolina. Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat each scored their first NHL goals to help the Lightning beat the Hurricanes, 4-1.
Teddy Purcell and Nate Thompson supplied the other goals for the Lightning, who snapped a five-game losing streak at home with a third straight win over their Southeast Division rivals. Tampa Bay improved its home record this season to 7-7-1.
Tampa Bay goaltender Mathieu Garon made 21 saves and all three of his wins this season (3-7-0) have come against the Hurricanes.
"That's what we need for the rest of (the season). We have to play a full 60 minutes every night," said Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman.
The Lightning played their second straight game without forward Vincent Lecavalier, who is on the injured reserve list with a lower-body injury.