Lightning-Flyers: Mike Richards Powers Philadelphia Past Tampa

Chris DiFrancescoAnalyst IJanuary 31, 2009

It's hard to say whether or not last night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning was a must-win game for the Flyers. But, it was close.

The Flyers went into last night four points behind division leading NJ Devils, and by the end of the night, they ended up being six behind, after the Devils won their game.

The win last night was the club's first win in Tampa Bay in six years, as the forum has not been kind to the orange and black. The Flyers put on a scoring frenzy in one of the more bizarre games so far this season.

The Lightning failed to score on a penalty shot and had two goals disallowed, both video reviews of which the Tampa Bay players thought were wrong. It was obvious that the Mark Recchi non-goal was the wrong call. It was clear that there was no distinct kicking motion; it simply bounced off his shin and behind Antero Niittymaki.

"They have to do better than that," Recchi said. "We're fighting for our playoff life and calls like that really hurt our hockey club. It's not right. I think they made some mistakes tonight."

"They made the wrong call," Recchi said. "If you look at it in fast motion, there's no way I can react to that puck. It's a terrible call on their part, and it made a big difference in the game."

I agree with Recchi only on his goal that was disallowed. The others were correct.

Flyers captain Mike Richards carried the load for his team, scoring two goals and recording an assist on a beautiful cross ice pass to defenseman Randy Jones on a power play goal.

"The puck kind of followed me," Richards said. "I feel like I was getting the chances before, I just wasn't getting the results."

Jeff Carter added two goals to take over the league lead in goals with 31 now. Scott Hartnell pitched in to complete the scoring.

What got lost in last night's game was the performance of Antero Niittymaki. Niittymaki, who recorded an assist last night, stopped 41 Lightning shots to solidify another victory.

Overall, the breaks that came for the Flyers were what really shot this team into overdrive to score six goals. Steven Stamkos slapped in a shot in the air and was disallowed because his stick was above the crossbar. The Flyers received some lucky spots and capitalized like a good team should.

"It's not often you see your team get two breaks like that, but I think we were due for some breaks," said coach John Stevens. "Our team worked hard tonight, and it's nice to see us capitalize on the breaks."

Last night was Richard's first muti-goal game since Dec. 2. He has had a sore shoulder over the last month and a half which is tough to deal with when you're one of the top grinding two-way players in hockey.

Coach John Stevens saw how rejuvenated his captain looked.

"I read Richie's responses to the questions, and he's a standup guy who's out front taking all the bullets," Stevens said. "I just had this feeling he would have a good game today, because sometimes when a player gets in that position, they're going to deflect the blame somewhere else, and he never does. He always takes the blame himself, and he always wants to make a difference."

"There's a reason he's the captain, he can lead."


    Introducing Flyers Fan Fridays

    Philadelphia Flyers logo
    Philadelphia Flyers

    Introducing Flyers Fan Fridays

    Broad Street Hockey
    via Broad Street Hockey

    Flyers Weekly Mailbag: Let the games begin

    Philadelphia Flyers logo
    Philadelphia Flyers

    Flyers Weekly Mailbag: Let the games begin

    Jamey Baskow
    via Philly Sports Network

    Humbled by Capitals, Lightning Should Still Be Proud

    Tampa Bay Lightning logo
    Tampa Bay Lightning

    Humbled by Capitals, Lightning Should Still Be Proud

    Eugene Helfrick
    via The Hockey Writers

    Conn Smythe: It Is Fleury's to Lose

    NHL logo

    Conn Smythe: It Is Fleury's to Lose

    Adam Gretz
    via ProHockeyTalk