PHILADELPHIA — The Lightning begrudgingly called it progress. Annoying, frustrating progress. But at this point, the team will take what it can get.
The Lightning ended a three-game road trip by rallying from two goals down in the third period on Tuesday at the Wachovia Center to tie the Flyers. But Mike Richards slammed in the winner, his second goal of the game, for a 4-3 win in overtime. The Lightning lost its fifth straight and fell to 2-8 in overtimes or shootouts.
But the team earned a point, and that matters considering it came in tied for the fewest in the NHL. (Atlanta's loss Tuesday gave the Thrashers that distinction alone.) And the Lightning played a more sustained, gritty game, a rarity recently.
"We were down two goals and we made a game of it and there was character out there, which was nice to see," interim coach Rick Tocchet said. "Young kids really played with a lot of energy. A lot of positives there, definitely."
And weirdness. After Lightning goaltender Mike Smith lunged to his left for a save in the final 30 seconds, Ryan Malone blocked a shot in the slot and broke toward goaltender Martin Biron. Scott Hartnell, who had lost his stick on the shift, flung a glove at Malone from behind as they approached the net with 16.3 seconds left, drawing a penalty shot. Malone, 29, who scored on his first-ever penalty shot last week against the Devils, missed left.
The mayhem continued into overtime when Malone committed a goaltender interference penalty away from the net after another rush and continued with Biron and a defender into the corner. What could have been read as frustration was actually a bad call, Malone said.
The Flyers capitalized on the power play with Richards joining Jeff Carter in scoring two goals for the game. The Lightning was left to cull for positives once the sting subsided.
"You hate looking at the positives all the time," Malone said, "but you have to find a way to get the job done. Tonight it was my job to get the job done and I didn't."
The Lightning put itself in position to win when Steve Downie, a former Flyer who came to the Lightning in a Nov. 7 deal, used his first Tampa Bay goal to tie the score at 3 at 15:25 of the third. The Flyers had appeared to put the game out of reach with two goals early in the period, the first on a breakout by Richards and another in the close from Carter. The Flyers, who ended a two-game losing streak and have won seven of their past 10, led 3-1.
But the Lightning countered 21 seconds later when a Steve Eminger shot from the point was flicked airborne by Martin St. Louis, grazed Vinny Prospal and fell past Biron for his fifth goal of the season.
Carter scored a power-play goal for the Flyers three minutes into the game after Downie committed tripping and roughing penalties, but former Flyer Mark Recchi tied it midway through the first. The Lightning did squander a major opportunity in the period when it failed to score on a five-minute major by Scottie Upshall. But it was still progress. And weird.
"It was really weird," Tocchet said.
First Period—1, Philadelphia, Carter 17 (Timonen, Lupul), 2:58 (pp). 2, Tampa Bay, Recchi 6 (Jokinen, Prospal), 11:50 (pp). Penalties—Downie, TB (roughing, tripping), 1:58; Richards, Phi (roughing), 1:58; Metropolit, Phi (holding), 10:18; Smolenak, TB, major (fighting), 11:53; Asham, Phi, major (fighting), 11:53; Upshall, Phi, major-game misconduct (boarding), 17:27.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Briere, Phi (hooking), 3:25; Philadelphia bench, served by Lupul (too many men), 7:18; Jokinen, TB (high-sticking), 11:39; Artyukhin, TB (hooking), 17:04; Sbisa, Phi (tripping), 19:03.
Third Period—3, Philadelphia, Richards 9, :36. 4, Philadelphia, Carter 18 (Hartnell, Lupul), 4:36 (pp). 5, Tampa Bay, Prospal 5 (St. Louis, Eminger), 4:57 (pp). 6, Tampa Bay, Downie 1 (Smolenak, Stamkos), 15:25. Penalties—Artyukhin, TB (interference), 2:42; Vaananen, Phi (hooking), 4:51; Recchi, TB (slashing), 8:35.
Overtime—7, Philadelphia, Richards 10 (Timonen, Carter), 2:05 (pp). Penalty—Malone, TB (goalie interference), 1:24. Missed Penalty Shot—Malone, TB, 19:43 third. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 17-11-10-0—38. Philadelphia 13-9-9-1—32. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 2 of 5; Philadelphia 3 of 6. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Smith 5-6-7 (32 shots-28 saves). Philadelphia, Biron 9-6-3 (38-35). A—19,227 (19,537). T—2:35. Referees—Stephane Auger, Gord Dwyer. Linesmen—Mike Cvik, Michel Cormier.