NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 15th (All times eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (36-14-5) at Tampa Bay Lightning (34-17-5), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While the Flyers may be considered one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference, they haven't impressed the Lightning all that much. Perhaps the addition of another offensive piece can change that.
One day after the acquisition of winger Kris Versteeg, Philadelphia hopes to avoid getting swept in its regular-season series by Tampa Bay for the first time in five years in this evening's clash at St. Pete Times Forum.
Though the Flyers lead the conference with 77 points, four less than the Canucks for most in the NHL, they haven't been able to solve the Lightning this season. Tampa Bay has scored 15 goals in the three meetings this year and is looking to avenge last season's series sweep by Philadelphia by winning all four games for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
The Flyers, who are third in the NHL with 181 goals, added a former 20-goal scorer on Monday when they got Versteeg from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a first and third round draft choice in 2011. The forward had 14 goals and 21 assists in 53 games with the Leafs and was a part of the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks team that bested the Flyers in last year's finals. Versteeg notched six goals and 14 points in last year's postseason.
The 24-year-old was then sent to the Maple Leafs in a five-player deal with the Blackhawks on June 30.
"Right away I was extremely excited to join this team," said Versteeg, who could make his debut tonight. "They've had a lot of success this season. They had a great playoff push last year and I'm excited to try and have a good one this year. I like to make plays and score goals at the same time, maybe go out there and be an agitator at times too. I'm going to try and do it all and have fun doing it."
The Lightning had lost three straight and five of seven at home to the Flyers before a 4-0 victory at St. Pete Times Forum on Feb. 1, backed by 38 saves from netminder Dwayne Roloson. That meeting was part of Tampa Bay's current NHL record-tying 12-game homestand and the Bolts have produced a 5-2-0 mark so far on the stay following Saturday's 4-3 overtime win against the Hurricanes.
Sean Bergenheim gave the Lighting a two-goal lead in the third period, but Carolina netted a pair of goals in a 19-second span with the goaltender on the bench for an extra attacker. Tampa still secured the extra point when Bergenheim set up Marc-Andre Bergeron's winner 1:32 into the extra period.
"I found a way to sneak one in," Bergeron said of his game-winner.
Steve Downie and Vincent Lecavalier both tallied in the second period for Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay, which has won eight of its last 10 overall and leads second-place Washington by five points for the division's top spot.
The Lightning also trail the Flyers by four points for the top seed and have won 13 of their last 17 at home.
Roloson made 31 saves to beat Carolina and is 4-7-0 with a 2.84 goals-against average versus the Flyers. Steven Stamkos, the NHL's leading goal-scorer with 40, has five goals and an assist in the three meetings with Philadelphia, scoring in each game. He has a goal and five helpers in his last three games overall.
It is unknown which Flyers goaltender will try to slow down Stamkos tonight. Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky has started two of the three games, but has been pulled after the first period in both after allowing a total of seven goals on 17 shots.
Veteran Brian Boucher, meanwhile, stopped 21-fo-24 shots against Tampa Bay in his lone start this year versus them on Oct. 14 and is 6-6-0 with a tie and 2.76 GAA when facing them lifetime.
Bobrovsky got the start in Philadelphia's most recent game, a 1-0 setback to Los Angeles on Sunday. He made 24 saves as the Flyers had a three-game winning streak end in the finale of a four-game homestand while also falling to just 13-4 in 2011.
The Flyers, who haven't lost back-to-back games since Dec. 20-28, had 40 shots on net, but were shut out for the fifth time this season.
"I think our execution wasn't the best today," said Flyers forward Danny Briere. "But we threw a lot of pucks on net. I thought we did a good job going to the net. They have big defensemen. They are physical in front there. We battled it out, and for some reason we just couldn't find [the loose pucks]."
Philadelphia begins a four-game road trip this evening and has won six of its last eight on the road.
02/15 10:47:54 ET