FFR2 Gm 45: TB 1, PHI 0 - Sh0cked
If the Flyers play a game but they do not score a goal, does it really even matter?
Yes, the standings harshly respond. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, shutout for the first time since March 31, 2019, falling 1-0 to the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning. Of course the Flyers run into the Bolts just after they break out of their first-half mediocrity and transition into the juggernaut they look like on paper.
This game was a wasted opportunity. The Tampa Bay Lightning are an absolutely stacked team, especially up front. They boast last year's Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner (Nikita Kucherov), the most recent 60-goal scorer (Steven Stamkos), one of the most underrated and underpaid first-liners in the league (Brayden Point), and an embarrassment of riches behind them (Anthony Cirelli, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and so on). If you hold that group to just one goal, a fluky one that was scored when Matt Niskanen failed to glove a puck in mid-air that plopped down on Patrick Maroon's stick right in front of the net, you HAVE to win.
Of course, the Lightning also have an elite defense, headlined by last year's Norris winner Victor Hedman, and started last year's Vezina winner Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes. It's not easy to score against those guys. But even if the Flyers were going up against a full all-star defense and the world's greatest goalie, I'd still expect them to find a way to sneak ONE puck to the back of the net. I get that shutouts happen. But this game was right there for the taking the entire night, and though the Flyers prevented the Lightning from taking full control, they weren't able to make an impact themselves.
With where the Flyers are in the standings right now, they can't afford to waste many opportunities. They already did so in massive fashion during the post-holiday road trip - those blowout defeats to bottom feeders LA and San Jose are the types of losses you look back on with a combination of tears and agony if your season ends with "what if?" This game falls under that category as well.
The Flyers just weren't able to execute at the same level the Bolts did. The power play went 0/3 - it looked decent, but for the third time in the last five games, it failed to score a late 3rd period goal when the team needed it to come through the most. At even strength, the Flyers didn't do a good enough job of getting to the high-danger areas. They came close there, too - Kevin Hayes dinged a sharp-angle shot off the post early in the 3rd - but close doesn't count in hockey.
Still, the Flyers can feel proud that they hung around with one of the best rosters and THE hottest team in the NHL. Unfortunately, they have to face another great team, the Boston Bruins (the only team higher in the Atlantic Division than the Lightning) on Monday. It won't be easy at all, but then again neither was this game. It will be an opportunity to offset the disappointment of this loss and get back on track. It's an opportunity that they can't afford to waste.
This loss stings for an emotional reason as well - Oskar Lindblom was in attendance for this game, the first time he's been so since his diagnosis. He received a lengthy and well-deserved ovation when he was shown on the jumbotron in the 1st period.
This is the first 1-0 loss for the Flyers since Marc-Andre Fleury and the Vegas Golden Knights beat them on October 13, 2018 in Philly. Cody Eakin had the lone goal, beating Brian Elliott with only 1:25 remaining in the 3rd period.
Tampa Bay has officially tied the New York Islanders for the longest winning streak in the NHL with 10 consecutive victories. The Isles also beat the Flyers during their win streak.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has now beaten the Flyers in four consecutive decisions, and has two shutouts against the Orange and Black in his career. After blanking the Coyotes in his last start, Vasilevskiy currently has a shutout streak of 145:55.
Entering tonight, the Flyers were 17-7-4 tonight, with the highest points percentage against the Eastern Conference (Tampa Bay began the night at third).
1st - Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB) - 1.000 SV% (23/23)
2nd - Carter Hart (PHI) - .964 SV% (27/28)
3rd - Pat Maroon (TB) - Game-Winning Goal (6)
TB - 1/12 @ NJ (15-21-7, W1)
PHI - 1/13 vs. BOS (27-8-11, W3)