Monday, January 12, 2015

Zepp and Flyers deal shock to the Lightning

Philadelphia, PA -- The goals came one after another, five in all during an electric and unexpected second-period burst.

Riding a healthy power play, offensively-challenged Philadelphia beat the highest-scoring team in the NHL at their own game.

Jakub Voracek, Mark Streit and Brayden Schenn had power-play goals and the Flyers scored five 
times in the second period to snap a nearly two-year losing streak against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 7-3 win on Monday night in the finale of a four-game homestand.

Chris VandeVelde, R.J. Umberger and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare also scored for the hosts, who have netted at least one power-play goal in 11 of their last 13 home games and in six of their last seven overall. 

Schenn, who snapped a 15-game goal drought, said they moved the puck well and kept it simple on the power play.

"I don't think we did anything we don't normally do," he said. "We just got some shots on net and the pucks went in."

It was their first win over Tampa Bay since Feb. 5, 2013, snapping a six-game losing streak. It was just their second win over the Lightning in the last 11 meetings and tied a franchise record for most goals in one game against the Bolts.

With Steve Mason out for two weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered in Saturday's loss to Boston, the Flyers turned to Rob Zepp, the 33-year-old who became the oldest NHL goaltender in 88 years to win his first career start last month.

Zepp made 21 saves in his second victory over as many starts and the Flyers won for the third time in four games after a five-game losing streak.

''There's emotion from the first time of working so hard toward that opportunity. It was overwhelming,'' Zepp said. ''No matter what I did, it was tough to suppress those feelings. Tonight coming in, I've been through that. I was ready to go. I was very comfortable right from the start.'' 

The news wasn't all sparkling despite the rout (and when is it ever?). Braydon Coburn was lost due to a suspected broken foot after taking a shot off his skate in the first period. It's the same foot which was injured on opening night and caused him to miss 12 games. This time, he's expected to miss a month. 
Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan had power-play goals and Brian Boyle also scored for the Eastern Conference-leading Lightning, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Two penalties by former Philadelphia defenseman Matthew Carle in the second period, including a double-minor for high-sticking, led to three Flyers goals.

NHL points leader Voracek fired a slap shot past Evgeni Nabokov and Bellemare ended a 28-game drought with a re-direction through his own legs for an even- strength goal that knocked the Lightning goaltender out of the game 2:36 into the period and gave the Flyers a 4-1 lead.

Streit scored on a power-play at 7:02 after some nifty puck movement in front of Ben Bishop and the Flyers had a two-man advantage when Schenn beat the hulking former Maine netminder with a wrist shot from the right circle.

They ended 3-for-4 on the power play in a reversal of the role their embattled penalty killers have embraced over the season's first half.

Raffl made it 7-1 on an easy wrister from the edge of the right circle later in the period and the Lightning got a fluke goal 22 seconds later, at 15:23, when a shot by Boyle bounced over Zepp. Callahan scored 80 seconds into the third period.

 ''They were getting to pucks faster, we weren't touching anyone in front of our net, leaving our goaltender out to dry,'' Lightning captain and usual Flyers-killer Steven Stamkos said. ''It was an accumulation of things we got away with in the first but not in the second.''

Both teams had two players named to the NHL All-Star Game on Saturday and all four contributed on the first two goals.

First-time All-Star Voracek started the rush that led to Philadelphia's first goal with Claude Giroux getting an assist for his pass to Luke Schenn, whose shot from the point was re-directed by VandeVelde 6:12 into the game.

Tyler Johnson, who will also make his All-Star Game debut, fired a pass from the far side of the right circle to set up Stamkos' tying goal on a one-timer from the slot at 10:26.

The Flyers took the lead after Matt Read's pass hit the skate of a defender and Umberger slid a backhand inside the post with 3:45 left in the period.

Notes: Zepp received the second-highest goal total for a Flyers goaltender in his first home start for the franchise. Only Bob Froese (Jan. 13, 1983 8-1 win vs. Pittsburgh) and Ken Wregget (Mar. 19, 1989 8-6 win vs. Toronto) benefitted from a greater amount ... The last time the home team recorded five goals in a period was Dec. 19, 2013 in a 5-4 win over Columbus, when all of their tallies came in the third period ... Streit led the Flyers, who saw 14 different players record at least one point, with three points ... Nabokov gave up four goals on 13 shots and Bishop allowed three on 12 ... The Flyers are just 4-12-1 against Tampa Bay since the start of the 2010-11 season. Before that, they were 39-22-8-2 from the Lightning's inception in 1992 through the end of the 2009-10 season ... The Flyers visit Washington on Wednesday ... The Lightning remain on the road to play Boston on Tuesday.

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