TAMPA — Make it 10. The Lightning extended their winning streak to double digits for the second time this season with a 5-3 win over the Flyers on Saturday.
Tampa Bay is only the second franchise to post multiple winning streaks of 10-plus games in one regular season NHL history. The Bruins did it in 1929-30 and 1970-71.
“We’re feeling confident, that’s for sure,” said Steven Stamkos, back in the lineup with two assists after missing the previous three games with an injury. “That’s a very delicate thing in the world in sports, and in life in general. We’re feeling good about ourselves.”
Adding to the overall winning streak — Tampa Bay’s second one of 10 games this season — the Lightning (39-15-5) set a franchise record with their 11th consecutive win at Amalie Arena. The previous record of 10 was set in the 2014-15 season.
Stamkos quipped that the players like home cooking.
The Lightning haven’t lost at Amalie Arena since coach Jon Cooper said they needed “to win some games at home” on Dec. 23, amidst a home-heavy stretch.
At the time, the Lightning had played 11 of their previous 14 games at home and were 5-5-1 at Amalie. They’ve played only 11 of the 25 games since that comment in Tampa but have won them all.
The path to that mark got a bit bumpy at the end Saturday, enough so that Cooper joked that “how are you” from a fan visiting from Bali to open the postgame news conference was a loaded question.
“I was good about an hour and a half ago,” he said. “I’m calming down now, so I’m better.”
With less than five minutes left in the game, the Flyers scored twice in less than a minute to pull within 4-3. Nikita Kucherov, back after missing one game with an injury, scored an empty-netter with 22 seconds left to seal the win.
There’s just something about the Flyers when it comes to the Lightning. Last season the Lightning twice gave up three-goal leads to them in the third period and had to win in overtime.
Saturday they pulled this one out in regulation, with the help of Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal and Kucherov, Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli, who also returned after missing one game hurt.
Through two periods, the Lightning built a 3-1 lead. Alex Killorn got them started early in the first, and Cedric Paquette followed with his second goal in two games. Carter Verhaeghe capitalized on a beautiful pass from Victor Hedman in the second period before the Flyers got on the board.
Ivan Provorov scored a power-play goal from just inside the blue line at center point about nine minutes into the second. But even as the already high physicality, including extracurricular activities, amped up, the Lightning largely maintained control.
Brayden Point landed a no-look shot off the crossbar with about eight minutes to go in the game for a 4-1 lead. At the time, it felt like he was putting the game out of reach, but the Flyers weren’t done.
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James van Riemsdyk score three minutes after Point to bring the Flyers within two, but it was Claude Giroux’s goal less than a minute later that put the game in the balance.
Vasilevskiy made a save on a Provorov shot, but Giroux wristed the puck right back at him. The goalie grabbed the puck in an elbow but couldn’t keep his balance and toppled over into the net. Initially, a referee signaled no goal, but upon review, the Flyers were given it to trail just 4-3.
Philadelphia pulled Carter Hart from the net with about three minutes to play, but the Lightning limited the Flyers’ scoring chances.
Vasilevskiy made the two more stops he needed to extend his point streak to 21 games, something only five other goalies have done in NHL history.
“We’ve been on a pretty good run here,” Cooper said. “I’ve stood up here a lot, and it’s not too often where I can criticize this team because they’ve given it everything they have. You can’t be on top of the game all the time, but (Saturday) … we found a way to win, but it just wasn’t the right way.”
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Killorn 22 (Shattenkirk, Sergachev), 3:17. 2, Tampa Bay, Paquette 6 (Maroon, Johnson), 14:55. Penalties—Stephens, TB (Cross Checking), 5:37; Provorov, Phi (Hooking), 7:53.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Verhaeghe 8 (Hedman, Gourde), 2:35. 4, Philadelphia, Provorov 11 (Couturier, Giroux), 8:57 (pp). Penalties—Kucherov, TB (Hooking), 7:53; Raffl, Phi (Elbowing), 10:36; Gourde, TB (Interference), 13:09; Konecny, Phi (Roughing), 13:51; Giroux, Phi (Slashing), 13:51; Stamkos, TB (Roughing), 13:51; Konecny, Phi (Roughing), 17:12; Coburn, TB (Roughing), 20:00; Cernak, TB (Misconduct), 20:00; Voracek, Phi (Roughing), 20:00.
Third Period—5, Tampa Bay, Point 21 (Kucherov, Stamkos), 12:34. 6, Philadelphia, van Riemsdyk 18 (Sanheim, Niskanen), 15:31 (pp). 7, Philadelphia, Giroux 16 (Konecny, Provorov), 16:15. 8, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 28 (Hedman, Stamkos), 19:38 (en). Penalties—Provorov, Phi (Boarding), 0:46; Coburn, TB (Holding), 5:01; Stephens, TB (Hooking), 14:00.
Shots on Goal—Philadelphia 8-10-15_33. Tampa Bay 11-6-7_24. Power-play opportunities—Philadelphia 2 of 5; Tampa Bay 0 of 5. Goalies—Philadelphia, Hart 17-12-3 (23 shots-19 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 32-9-3 (33-30). A—19,092 (19,092). T—2:42. Referees—TJ Luxmore, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen—Matt MacPherson, Bevan Mills.