Lightning blows three-goal lead, then tops Flyers in OT

Leading 5-2 heading into the third period, the Lightning gives up three goals in the first nine minutes. Alex Killorn saves the day in overtime.
The Lightning's Anthony Cirelli cheers as Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth watches a shot by Alex Killorn (not pictured) head into the net in overtime.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
The Lightning's Anthony Cirelli cheers as Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth watches a shot by Alex Killorn (not pictured) head into the net in overtime. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published December 27 2018

TAMPA — If Thursday's Lightning-Flyers game looked familiar, it should have.

It had a similar feel and look of the last time the teams faced each other, in Philadelphia on Nov. 17. The Lightning held a multigoal lead heading into the third period, only to give it up as the Flyers surged late.

In November, it took four Philadelphia third-period goals to send the game to overtime.

Thursday, it took three Flyer third-period goals to send the game to overtime.

Two games, similar story.

Fortunately for the Lightning, the only thing that changed was that Alex Killorn scored the overtime winner, not Anthony Cirelli.

Eighteen seconds into overtime, Killorn fired off the only shot of the period to help the Lightning escape with another 6-5 victory over the Flyers.

"I saw the forecheck curling," Killorn said. "That's my guy. I tried to stay with him. Tried to make a pass to the forecheck, but (it was blocked). It was a short 3-on-2. Got it back to me, and I just shot through the screen."

The Lightning needed Killorn's heroics because of a lethargic start to the third period.

The Flyers met that with a strong, fast start, scoring three goals in the first nine minutes. Dale Weise scored the first goal 1:33 into the period. Robert Hagg added another goal 4:21 in. Ivan Provorov waited a little longer, scoring 8:38 into the third.

The Lightning went from a comfortable three-goal lead to a game tied at 5.

"You know what, it's tough," Killorn said. "When they came back in the game, it seemed like we let our guard down a little bit. We were playing a different game than we were the rest of the game."

For much of the game, the Lightning didn't look that different from the team that has remained at the top of the NHL all season.

Philadelphia scored the first goal of the game, but that's not new for the Lightning. It has given up the first goal and come from behind to win blowouts on other occasions this season. Then Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission. Kucherov finished the game with four points (three assists).

While the usual offensive stars went to work, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy looked like the Vasilevskiy who was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season. He made one save with his right foot that kicked the puck out of the air in the first period that stunned the crowd. 

"He is so good," forward Yanni Gourde said. "He is so talented. He fights for every puck. That's what makes him a special goaltender."

But Vasilevskiy was not unbeatable, despite making several incredible saves. Flyers captain Claude Giroux proved as much when he tied the score at 2 early in the second. Giroux also skated around defenseman Ryan McDonagh on that play. Vasilevskiy made 28 saves.

Steven Stamkos made it look like the Lightning might not repeat its November performance when he scored two goals in three minutes in the second period for a 4-2 lead. (He also had two assists in the game for four points). Tyler Johnson's goal in the final 10 seconds of the period to give the Lightning a 5-2 lead heading into the third period did the same.

Then the Flyers put together yet another high-scoring third.

But once again, it wasn't something the Lightning couldn't overcome. And because of Killorn's overtime heroics, the Lightning became the first team in the NHL to reach 60 points this season.

"I think a lot of these games, we are getting scored on first, then we are finding a way to come back," Killorn said. "I don't know. It's the same team. In a lot of games, we have been able to protect our leads. I don't know. We're not too worried about it. We'll watch the video (today)."

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First Period—1, Philadelphia, Raffl 2 (Sanheim, Laughton), 10:50. 2, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 17 (Point, Johnson), 13:56. 3, Tampa Bay, Point 22 (Gourde, Stamkos), 19:12 (pp). Penalties–Johnson, TB, (hooking), 8:20; Sanheim, PHI, (hooking), 17:22; Cirelli, TB, Major (fighting), 19:33; Patrick, PHI, Major (fighting), 19:33.

Second Period—4, Philadelphia, Giroux 13 (Gudas, MacDonald), 4:36. 5, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 21 (Kucherov), 12:23. 6, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 22 (Kucherov, Hedman), 14:54 (pp). 7, Tampa Bay, Johnson 17 (Kucherov, Stamkos), 19:51. Penalties–Tampa Bay bench, served by Miller (delay of game), 4:36; MacDonald, PHI, (delay of game), 13:21.

Third Period—8, Philadelphia, Weise 5 (van Riemsdyk), 1:33. 9, Philadelphia, Hagg 4 (van Riemsdyk, Giroux), 4:21. 10, Philadelphia, Provorov 4 (Voracek, Couturier), 8:38. Penalties–Raffl, PHI, (tripping), 14:00; Erne, TB, (roughing), 16:16; Gudas, PHI, (roughing), 16:16.

Overtime_11, Tampa Bay, Killorn 10 (Cirelli), 0:18.
Shots on Goal—Philadelphia 11-9-13_33. Tampa Bay 16-12-8-1_37.
Power-play opportunities—Philadelphia 0 of 2 Tampa Bay 2 of 3.
Goalies—Philadelphia, Neuvirth 1-2-1 (37 shots-31 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 13-3-2 (33-28).
A—19,092 (19,092). T—2:40. Referees—Jean Hebert, TJ Luxmore. Linesmen—Jonny Murray, Pierre Racicot.

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