PHILADELPHIA — Monday couldn't have gone much worse for the Lightning.
There was the blowout defeat, 7-3 to the Flyers, with backup goaltender Evgeni Nabokov getting pulled early in the second period.
"If you're not on it, a team will light you up," coach Jon Cooper said of his team. "And they lit us up (Monday)."
But more troubling was the loss of two of Tampa Bay's best players, top defenseman Victor Hedman and leading scorer Tyler Johnson, who each suffered lower-body injuries. Their status going forward is unknown, though Cooper said there's a "good chance" neither play tonight against the Bruins, with call-ups possible.
"We're going to have to find a way," captain Steven Stamkos said.
The night killed the Lightning's feel-good vibe. Tampa Bay (27-13-4) came in on a roll, having won seven of eight. It was facing the underachieving Flyers (17-19-7), with rookie goalie Rob Zepp, 33, making his second NHL start. But as Cooper warned, "if you leave the door open a little, they'll kick it in."
Philadelphia did just that, breaking it open with five second-period goals, three on the power play. But the Lightning said the real culprit was its rough first. For whatever reason, Cooper said Tampa Bay didn't have its legs and got out of its structure. Stamkos said they didn't use their speed and weren't first on puck.
"We can't start a game like that," Stamkos said. "It's tough. We haven't had one of these games all year. It happens. But I think we're too good of a team to let that happen. Hopefully we got a little wake-up call."
Said defenseman Anton Stralman: "It was embarrassing how those first two periods looked."
Nabokov, in his first start since Dec. 19, wasn't very good, allowing four goals on 13 shots. It's fair to wonder, with the 39-year-old's underwhelming performance this season, when he'll get another start.
But Stamkos said the team hung Nabokov "out to dry." It took too many penalties, giving the Flyers a five-on-three. It mustered just six shots in the first 30 minutes.
"You can sit here and say what you want about the goals," Cooper said. "But those were not uncontested shots. They were wide open, and that hurt us a little bit."
The Lightning, down two players, attempted to battle back, with Brian Boyle (who played some defense) and Ryan Callahan scoring to cut the deficit to 7-3 by early in the third period. But it was too little, too late.
It didn't help that Hedman didn't play the final two periods after his injury late in the first. Johnson's last shift came midway through the second. Hedman missed six weeks this season with a fractured finger. Johnson, who leads Tampa Bay with 45 points, was named to his first All-Star team Saturday.
"Pull any of those guys out of the lineup, it's going to hurt," Cooper said. "We'll see how we adapt. This happens to teams, it's happened to us. We've been through it, let's see how we respond."
First Period—1, Philadelphia, VandeVelde 3 (L.Schenn, Giroux), 6:12. 2, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 23 (Johnson, Stralman), 10:26 (pp). 3, Philadelphia, Umberger 7 (Read, Coburn), 16:15. Penalties—Del Zotto, Phi (tripping), 9:09.
Second Period—4, Philadelphia, Voracek 17 (Streit, Giroux), 1:45 (pp). 5, Philadelphia, Bellemare 4 (VandeVelde, Del Zotto), 2:36. 6, Philadelphia, Streit 5 (B.Schenn, Simmonds), 7:02 (pp). 7, Philadelphia, B.Schenn 10 (Streit, Voracek), 8:37 (pp). 8, Philadelphia, Raffl 11 (Laughton, Simmonds), 15:01. 9, Tampa Bay, Boyle 8 (Paquette, Stralman), 15:23. Penalties—Carle, TB (hooking), 1:00; Carle, TB, double minor (high-sticking), 6:49; Johnson, TB (high-sticking), 7:54; Streit, Phi (hooking), 19:41.
Third Period—10, Tampa Bay, Callahan 13 (Drouin, Filppula), 1:20 (pp). Penalties—Morrow, TB, major (fighting), 14:03; MacDonald, Phi, major (fighting), 14:03; Simmonds, Phi (hooking), 14:03. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 5-6-13—24. Philadelphia 10-13-2—25. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 2 of 3; Philadelphia 3 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Nabokov 3-6-2 (13 shots-9 saves), Bishop (2:36 second, 12-9). Philadelphia, Zepp 2-0-0 (24-21). A—19,598 (19,541). T—2:27. Referees—Ghislain Hebert, Tom Kowal. Linesmen—Shandor Alphonso, Derek Nansen.