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Thursday, Jul 27, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamkos, Garon lead Lightning past Flyers, 5-1

TAMPA - Tuesday's game with the Flyers won't exactly show up on the highlight tape for Tampa Bay. But two points are not handed out for artistry in the NHL, only for victories. And though the Lightning's 5-1 victory against the Flyers looked ugly — even weird — at times, Tampa Bay will take the two points and hang them in the standings. Mathieu Garon was the backbone of the effort, stopping 31 shots including 16 in the first period, while Steven Stamkos scored twice to pull into a tie for the league lead with 22 on the season, matching New York Rangers forward Marian Gaborik. Steve Downie added a goal and assist, Vinny Lecavalier scored for just the second time in the past 14 games while Marty St. Louis picked up an assist to give him points in all three games since returning from a facial injury. The Lightning, who began a three-game homestand, have now won three of their past five games and have points in four of those five.
"I think everybody chipped in tonight and everybody worked hard, sometimes that's what you need for a stretch like we have had,'' Garon said. "Starting out at home with a win is a good thing. But we just have to focus on one game at a time.'' The victory came after the loss of defenseman Victor Hedman to an undisclosed upper body injury after hitting the boards early in the first period and the temporary loss of Eric Brewer following a fight with Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds in the second. By the end of the game, the Lightning were outshot, 32-16, by one of the top offensive teams in the league despite the lopsided-looking result. "You take them any way you can get them when you are struggling,'' Stamkos said of the victory. "If you look at the factors, the style of play we wanted to play, tight defensively, then losing two defensemen (to injury) ... change the game plan even more and we had to be a lot more disciplined. They didn't look like they were having very much fun out there, but we got the win.'' The Flyers came out like one of the top teams in the league, overpowering Tampa Bay at times and pinning the Lightning in their own zone for long stretches at a time. But it was Tampa Bay that opened the scoring when defenseman Bruno Gervais fired a wrist shot from along the right boards that beat goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Garon, meanwhile, looked like he was going to be unbeatable at the other end until league-leading scorer Claude Giroux fired a pass to himself off the end boards back into the left circle and getting a shot on net. Scott Hartnell was there for the rebound to tie the game with 1 minute, 46 seconds left in the period for the only shot to get past him among the 17 he faced in the opening 20 minutes. "He gave us a chance,'' Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said of Garon. "After that, the players gave it back to him.'' In what looked like a polar opposite of the first period, Tampa Bay had the better play in the second, holding the Flyers to just three shots on goal while the Lightning scored three times. Stamkos scored twice — at 7:25 and a power play goal at 18:45 —sandwiched around a Downie goal at 11:41. With Tampa Bay frustrating Philadelphia, things got a little chippy during a television timeout when Hartnell was in front of the Tampa Bay bench and reportedly had his stick high, waving it back and forth in front of several players. Ryan Malone then came over the bench to intervene, with both players getting hit with 10-minute misconduct penalties. Then Max Talbot slammed his stick against the glass following a boarding call, which resulted in a four-minute power play, the second-half of which Stamkos scored on to make it 4-1. "It was a weird game,'' Malone said. "I just think (Hartnell) was standing too close to our bench, I think ... it reminded me of (the movies) "Slap Shot'' or "Youngblood'' or something. I didn't know what was going on.'' Lecavalier then closed out the scoring with 59.7 seconds left to lift the depleted bench that was short on defensemen. Boucher quipped after his postgame news conference "Anybody play defense, here?"

eerlendsson@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7835

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