If the Lightning plan to win the top seed, they’ll need to come out strong. They’ve played two tight games against the Capitals and Bruins. However, the Flyers have been able to limit their opposition to only one goal and have scored three or more goals in both games. It’ll be interesting to see if this trend carries in this game as Tampa has a high-power offence and a solid defensive group, with a vezina-calibre goalie to boot. Both teams will need to play hard and grind their opponent.
Philadelphia came to play, at least Nicolas Aube-Kubel did. Less than ten minutes into the period, Nikita Kucherov gets on a breakaway but is unable to bury it. On the other end, 40 seconds later, after Ondrej Palat is unable to accept a pass at shoulder height, the Flyers pounce on the loose puck. It gets passed back to Shayne Gostisbehere who fires it from the point and Aube-Kubel tips it in front of the net to put Philly on the board, 1-0 Flyers.
This sets the Flyers off. Philippe Myers picks off a pass in the neutral zone and passes it up to Aube-Kubel who moves it to Sean Couturier. He then passes it back cross-crease and Aube-Kubel puts it in for his second of the night, 2-0 Flyers.
After the first, the Lightning look lifeless. They continue to fumble the puck and the Flyers are relentless on the forecheck, capitalizing on their opponent’s mistakes. Shots are 20-6 in favor of the Flyers, they are dominating the Lightning.
The second frame is much more evenly matched. Not as exciting as the first but Tampa finally gets on the board. Just over five minutes in, Brayden Point passes it down the right-wing side to Alex Killorn. He passes it from behind the net to Tyler Johnson who makes no mistake, the game is now 2-1.
Just over five minutes to go, Couturier, is battling for a puck against Anthony Cirelli and pushes it to Shayne Gostisbehere who pinches. He quickly passes it cross-ice to Joel Farabee who one-times it into the net, 3-1 Flyers.
As I said, this is a much tighter period but in the grand scheme of the game, the Flyers have a big lead. However, if the previous two Leafs games are any indication, no lead is safe.
Tampa came out trying to come back. They’re forechecking hard and doing what they can to even the score but it’s too late. Carter Hart stands on his head and is able to keep his team in the game. The Lightning don’t score again and the Flyers don’t score until they bury an empty netter.
Flyers take the top seed in the east and will face the Montreal Canadiens. The Tampa Bay Lightning take the second seed and will face the winner of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs series.
Philadelphia was just much more complete. Their goaltender answered the call when needed and they were relentless on the forecheck. They got scoring and offensive chances from all around their line-up and should make a good series between them and Montreal.
Tampa just couldn’t get their feet under them. Now, the Lightning will be the second seed and will have to play either Columbus or Toronto next round. I failed to mention previously but Victor Hedman took an awkward turn in the first period and left the game and didn’t return. It’s unclear whether it’s serious or not but he’s a big piece for their team. It would be a devastating loss if it’s long-term. Add that to Steven Stamkos, who’s out indefinitely and it paints a scary picture for the Lightning moving forward in the postseason.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Shayne Gostisbehere
⭐️⭐️ – Carter Hart
⭐️ – Nicolas Aube-Kubel
⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Nikita Kucherov
⭐️⭐️ – Alex Killorn
⭐️ – Tyler Johnson
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