NHL Game Night: 12-27-11 Flyers at Lightning

Lightning steal the points, and the Flyers' dignity.

PHI-1
TB-5

Mathieu Garon allowed 1 goal on 32 shots for the win. He shook off the overtime softie from Colorado and turned in his best game of the season tonight. His rebound control was so much better than usual and he ate up a lot of pucks and got the Lightning some key stoppages when they needed them. He was outstanding.

First Period
TB Gervais (3), (Hall), 9:34
PHI Hartnell (17), (Giroux, Jagr), 18:14

Second Period
TB Stamkos (21), (Clark, Malone), 7:25
TB Downie (5), (Purcell, Kubina), 11:41
TB Stamkos (22), (Downie, St. Louis)(PP), 18:45

Third Period
TB Lecavalier (12), (St. Louis), 19:00

Garon, Steven Stamkos, and Steve Downie were the game's three stars.

I don't know what it has been about these last 2 games against Philadelphia, but the Lightning have done exactly what they needed to do to win the games. Tonight, it took Garon standing on his head for the first period, making Philly essentially punch themselves out, and then being very opportunistic with the spare amount of scoring chances they got.

They're deep in Philly's head, too, as evidenced by the low life brand of hockey Philly resorted to in the second period. Scott Hartnell should be suspended for his stick waving incident at the Lightning bench, and Wayne Simmonds' instigation of a fight with Eric Brewer while Victor Hedman was already out injured sure did look like a coach ordered hit. Call me crazy, but they played dirt bag hockey, and the Lightning made them pay with Steven Stamkos' goal to push the margin to the all important 3 goals heading into the third. As readers of this blog should well know, a 3 goal lead heading into the third period in pro hockey is as close to a death sentence as a team can receive. The fact it allowed the Lightning to back off into the 1-3-1 a bit to kill off the remaining 20 minutes was all the sweeter, although I did feel like the Lightning needed to send a message after all the Flyer thuggery. I would've liked to have seen a player like Malone go out there and drop the gloves late in the game and make a point. It would've been nice to show the league, through the HBO cameras, that you don't take liberties with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

So, the Lightning close the gap on 8th place to 6 points, and move back to 2 games under .500. The game against Montreal on Thursday is huge. Games don't get bigger in December. The Lightning have to win that game to really give themselves a shot to climb back into the playoff hunt. Got to.

J.T. Wyman had 1 hit in 5:59 and almost had to play some defenseman in this game after Brewer left the Simmonds fight bloody. Scary stuff. Also, I would be remiss to not mention how weird it is to see someone other than Mikael Andersson in #34. It doesn't seem right.

Blair Jones had 1 hit in 10:20. With Malone out with a 10 minute misconduct for hopping off the bench after Hartnell's stick waving incident, he even got a rare PP shift.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.