PHILADELPHIA — It's nice, isn't it, when an axiom in which one believes turns out to be true?
Struggling Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback has said all along that hard work would force breaks and bounces to go his way. And there were inklings to that effect Saturday in Tampa Bay's 6-3 victory over the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Lindback, who had allowed 10 goals on his previous 59 shots, made 35 saves to hold off a Philadelphia team with a 38-25 shot advantage. But he also benefited from two shots off the crossbar, another off a post and the quick hands of defenseman Andrej Sustr, who in the third period pulled a puck off the goal line to preserve a 5-3 lead.
Tampa Bay (27-14-4), which scored four times in the second, also benefited from poor goaltending by the Flyers' Steve Mason. But the bottom line was this: "It was the first time in a long time I came up to the way I should be playing," Lindback said.
Ryan Malone, who had three goals entering the game, scored twice, including an empty-netter. Marty St. Louis got his 20th.
Alex Killorn, Teddy Purcell and Valtteri Filppula also tallied. And Matt Carle set a franchise record by going plus-6 as Tampa Bay ended the Flyers' 10-game home winning streak and won its seventh of eight on the road.
"It's special," Sustr said. "We have a good thing going on the road. We've just got to make sure we play the same way every night and keep it rolling here."
Same for Lindback, who is 5-9-1 with a 3.71 goals-against average and an .881 save percentage, and will be the primary goalie while Ben Bishop is out with a sprained right wrist.
"He was arguably our best player," coach Jon Cooper said. "I would never say he's played poorly. He's just had some bad breaks. You work hard enough, things are going to turn and go your way. They did (Saturday)."
Lindback was huge in the first period, preserving a 1-0 lead with six saves during a 2-minute, 14-second penalty kill that included 1:46 of five-on-three. "An early turning point," Cooper called it.
Filppula broke a 3-3 tie with a backhand rebound goal with 4:19 left in the second period. St. Louis made it 5-3 with 56.2 seconds left.
With 12:19 left in the third period, Sustr, during a scramble, knocked away a puck just before it slid across the goal line to avoid the pressure of a one-goal game. "I was like, 'I have to get a stick on it,' " he said. "Everything happened so fast. I was happy I caught it at the last second."
"A great stick," Lindback said.
And, finally, a great result for the goalie.
First—1, TB, Killorn 11, 4:33. Penalties—Downie, Phi (slashing), 7:56; Malone, TB (hooking), 13:39; Hedman, TB (delay of game), 13:53.
Second—2, TB, Purcell 9 (Filppula, Carle), 5:21. 3, Phi, Voracek 11 (Giroux), 6:44. 4, TB, Malone 4 (Thompson, Crombeen), 7:28. 5, Phi, Simmonds 15 (Hartnell, Giroux), 11:14 (pp). 6, Phi, Voracek 12 (Meszaros), 14:35. 7, TB, Filppula 18 (Killorn, Purcell), 15:41. 8, TB, St. Louis 20 (Johnson, Gudas), 19:03. Penalties—Couturier, Phi (hook), 1:18; Malone, TB, double minor (rough), 10:42; Coburn, Phi (rough), 10:42.
Third—9, TB, Malone 5 (Crombeen, Carle), 18:12 (en). Penalties—Crombeen, TB (delay of game), 7:47; Hartnell, Phi (illegal check to head minor), 15:09; Gudas, TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:55; Downie, Phi (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:55. SOG—TB 7-10-8—25. Phi 15-11-12—38. PP opps—TB 0 of 3; Phi 1 of 4. Goalies—TB, Lindback 5-9-1 (38 shots-35 saves). Phi, Mason 18-11-4 (17-12), Emery (0:00 third, 7-7).