Flyers surprise high-powered Lightning
TAMPA — Catching a break against a backup goalie, the Philadelphia Flyers surprised the Tampa Bay Lightning, pulling off a 5-3 upset win on Friday night at Amalie Arena.
With both teams playing the tail end of a back-to-back, Tampa Bay went with backup goalie Peter Budaj while Philadelphia stayed with primary goalie Brian Elliott.
Philadelphia (16-14-8) took the lead in the final minute of the second period, then got a wraparound goal from Brandon Manning in the third for a cushion. Tampa Bay (27-8-2) took just their second loss of December after enjoying a 10-1-0 stretch coming in, along with eight straight wins at home.
So how do the Flyers beat the best team in hockey a night after losing at the Florida Panthers?
“That’s a good question. That’s how a lot of our season has gone,” said Philadelphia’s Valterri Filppula, who had an empty-net goal against his old team. “One good game, and one like last night. If we play like this, we’re going to have a good chance to win against a lot of teams.”
Tampa Bay pulled within one with 11:02 left, getting a short-handed goal from Tyler Johnson, who got a breakaway and beat Elliott for his 10th goal of the season. Philadelphia scored an empty-net goal from Filppula (his ninth) with 31 seconds left to seal the win.
“They’ve been on fire all season,” Filppula said of Tampa Bay. “Playing really well, one of the top teams in the league. It’s good to see where we stand, good to know we have a chance against anybody. That should give us confidence.”
Budaj (3-3-1) exited with an injury with 9:34 left in the game after Flyers center Scott Laughton slid into him from behind and pinned his left leg underneath him. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he would be re-evaluated and the team might need to call up a new backup. Andrei Vasilevskiy took over in net.
Budaj had won three of his last four games coming in, but has now allowed 16 goals in his last four outings. Elliott had 24 saves in earning the win for Philadelphia.
“We (stunk),” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “They were way better than us. They deserved the two points. We didn’t deserve anything. ... Penalty kill (stunk). Forecheck (stunk). Didn’t shoot the puck (stunk). Turnovers (stunk). Coaching (stunk). Just go through the list.”
A night after the Lightning tied the game against Montreal with a goal with 11 seconds left in the second period, the Flyers took the lead at the exact same time.
Sean Couturier scored his 18th goal on a rebound with 11 seconds left, giving the Flyers a 3-2 lead to take into the final period after the Lightning had rallied to tie the game.
Brayden Point had scored with 4:23 left, stealing the puck at center ice and scoring on a pass from Ondrej Palat for his 16th goal and a 2-2 tie.
Steven Stamkos gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal with 12:33 left in the opening period. It was his 16th of the season and third in two nights.
Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds tied the game on a power play with 13:04 left in the second for his 12th goal, with Couturier on the assist. Shayne Gostisbehere put the Flyers ahead with 9:57 left on another power play, getting his eighth goal for a 2-1 lead.
“When you take penalties like that, it ruins the flow of your shifts,” said Tampa Bay’s Johnson. “We have to do a better job staying out of the box, and the PK has to do a better job of keeping pucks out of the net.”
Manning’s goal in the third — his fourth of the season — came in his first game back after missing 10 games with a hand injury.
NOTES: The Lightning played a second straight game without D Anton Stralman due to a lower-body injury. Coach Jon Cooper had said there was a chance he would return for Sunday’s game at Columbus. RW J.T. Brown was a healthy scratch. ... The Flyers also got C Jori Lehtera back in the lineup, with D Travis Sanheim and LW Taylor Leier as scratches. ... Tampa Bay has its next five games on the road, starting Sunday in Columbus. Philadelphia has its next four at home, starting Tuesday against Pittsburgh.