(Philadelphia, PA) – Jeff Carter scored two goals, including the game-winner with 1:54 left in the third period, as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Wachovia Center on Thursday night, 3-2.
Carter did most of the work himself on the deciding score. He skated the puck from behind the Tampa Bay net all the way out to the top of the zone before floating a wrist shot towards the net. Goaltender Mike Smith was screened on the play as the puck sailed high into the back of the net late in regulation.
“Carts was really a determined individual tonight,” said John Stevens. “It’s not surprising that he’d come through and get us going with a great goal early and put it away late. He just seems to be the guy you want on the ice all the time.”
Since Mike Richards got hurt on February 23, Carter has six goals and two assists in the last five games.
“We need people to step up in the absence of some really good players, and Jeff has done that,” said Stevens.
“Obviously we didn’t want Richie out of the lineup but it was a great opportunity for myself to step up and really show that I can do this kind of stuff,” said Carter. “I just take it and run with it.”
It was a much needed victory for Philadelphia, which increased its hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers now have 76 points to Buffalo’s 73. They also pulled to within a point of the seventh-seeded Boston Bruins, who lost to Toronto. The New York Rangers jumped into sixth with a victory over the Islanders and now have 79 points.
The Flyers have lost just once in regulation in their last seven games (4-1-2). They also snapped an eight-game home losing streak to the Lightning.
The Lightning opened the scoring just 31 seconds into the game, but the Flyers responded with a pair of goals before the intermission.
Jussi Jokinen, recently acquired by Tampa Bay from the Dallas Stars in the trade for Brad Richards, found the rebound of a shot by Martin St. Louis to give the Lightning the lead.
Danny Briere tied the game when his quick wrist shot beat Smith high to the glove side at 14:51. Smith was also acquired from Dallas as part of the trade for Richards at the deadline.
Briere, who missed the Flyers’ previous game on Tuesday night against Buffalo, returned from his slight right shoulder strain. It was thought that he would not be able to return until Saturday at the earliest.
“If there was any way Danny could play, he wanted to play, and I though that was terrific and just an indication of how much he cares,” said Stevens.
“All I wanted to do was that if I could come in and provide a little spark, no matters how, get us [two points],” said Briere. “That’s all I was looking for; for us to pick up some points or in the standings.”
Dan Boyle’s turnover at the blue line led to Carter’s first goal of the night and the Flyers’ first lead. Carter gathered the puck and caught Smith leaning towards a cutting Mike Knuble before lifting in a backhand less than two minutes after Briere’s goal. The goal, his 24th of the year, established a new career high.
The Lightning tied the game at 8:18 of the second period, when Michel Ouellet converted a give-and-go with Jokinen from the slot.
Another storyline provided in the match included Riley Cote and Andre Roy dropping the gloves on two separate occasions. The first fight was a draw, but the in the second altercation Cote caught Roy flush with a left hand, sending the Lightning heavyweight to his knees early in the second period.
Roy was apparently not happy with the result of the second fight or the many arena replays of the knockout, and he comically jawed at Cote from the ice and the bench well into the third period. At one point, Roy made a throat-slashing gesture towards Cote, and was grabbed by Lightning coach John Tortorella.
“That will be handled internally,” said Tortorella, when asked about Roy’s emotions.
The Flyers remain home as they host the New York Islanders at the Wachovia Center on Saturday night (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
Carter registered his seventh career two-goal game. … Sami Kapanen played in his 300th game as a Flyer. … Philadelphia is 14-2-1 when leading after the first period. … The teams split their four meetings this season. … The Flyers are 29-21-8 against the Eastern Conference and 12-4-3 against the Southeast Division. … Tampa Bay has lost eight of its last nine games.
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Martin St. Louis
1 - 0 TBL
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PHI
2 - 2 Tie