TAMPA — Flyers center Vinny Lecavalier, the former longtime Lightning captain, said before Thursday's game that Steven Stamkos is the most dangerous goal-scorer in the NHL.
"No doubt about it," Lecavalier said.
Stamkos showed why against the Flyers, racking up two goals to lift Tampa Bay to a 4-3 win in front of 18,642 at Amalie Arena. It was the second straight victory for the Lightning (7-3-1), which snapped the Flyers' three-game winning streak and moved to 8-0-1 in its past nine games at home against Philadelphia.
"It's huge," Stamkos said. "I don't think we had our best game, but we found a way to win. That's a good characteristic to have."
Stamkos was first to point out he didn't play his best, with a team-high three giveaways, but his third multigoal game of the season proved large. His first goal, which put Tampa Bay up 2-1 with 36 seconds left in the second period, was a beauty. Shortly after Valtteri Filppula missed an open net on a one-timer during a power play, Stamkos snapped a wrist shot that somehow sneaked through a tiny hole above the right shoulder of goalie Ray Emery. Coach Jon Cooper said the joke was Filppula missed on purpose to set up Stamkos.
"I still don't know how he got that in," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "But that's why he is who he is."
Stamkos' second goal, his eighth of the season, was a one-timer off a nice feed from Filppula early in the third period. The Flyers made it interesting in the final minute. Michael Raffl scored with 53 seconds left after they pulled Emery, but Tampa Bay held on.
"Every time we were inching ahead, Philly pushed back," Cooper said.
For the second straight game, the Lightning got off to a strong start. It took the lead 3:29 in when rookie Vladislav Namestnikov made a nice tip on a point shot by Stralman, with Jonathan Drouin picking up the secondary assist. The Flyers didn't get their first shot on Ben Bishop until midway through the period. But Philadelphia tied the score at 1 three minutes later.
Stralman said the Lightning kind of sat back after the early lead. But Ondrej Palat made the biggest defensive play in the second period, backchecking to thwart a shorthanded breakaway by Raffl and preserve the 1-1 tie. "If we give up a shorthanded goal there, who knows how that swings the game," Cooper said. "A heck of a play."
Tampa Bay's power play, which went 2-for-5, got better as the game wore on, with Jason Garrison's rocket one-timer with just under four minutes left a much-needed insurance goal. "Sometimes it's not about how you play," Stralman said. "It's about getting the points."
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Namestnikov 3 (Stralman, Drouin), 3:29. 2, Philadelphia, Simmonds 6 (Bellemare, B.Schenn), 12:43. Penalties—None.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 7 (Garrison, Filppula), 19:14 (pp). Penalties—Sustr, TB (holding), 5:30; Giroux, Phi (holding stick), 6:22; Boyle, TB (holding), 6:22; Couturier, Phi (high-sticking), 8:09; VandeVelde, Phi (tripping), 11:04; Brewer, TB (roughing), 11:04; L.Schenn, Phi (hooking), 15:06; Rinaldo, Phi (roughing), 18:34; Gudas, TB (roughing), 20:00.
Third Period—4, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 8 (Filppula, Killorn), 5:30. 5, Philadelphia, Voracek 3 (Manning, Giroux), 6:38. 6, Tampa Bay, Garrison 1 (Stamkos, Filppula), 16:48 (pp). 7, Philadelphia, Raffl 6 (Voracek, Giroux), 19:06. Penalties—Grossmann, Phi (high-sticking), 2:28; Philadelphia bench, served by Simmonds (too many men), 14:52. Shots on Goal—Philadelphia 4-8-15—27. Tampa Bay 9-13-10—32. PP opps—Philadelphia 0 of 2; Tampa Bay 2 of 5. Goalies—Philadelphia, Emery 4-1-1 (32 shots-28 saves). Tampa Bay, Bishop 6-1-1 (27-24).