TAMPA, Fla. – The Philadelphia Flyers appeared headed toward another stinker after blowing a two-goal lead. Then, an unlikely offensive candidate came up big.
Blair Betts and Mike Richards both scored two goals and the Flyers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Betts, who had just one goal in his previous 16 games this season, scored on an in-close redirection with 9:59 to play to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead. Richards extended the Philadelphia advantage to 4-2 at 17:22 of the third.
“I don’t score too often, obviously,” said Betts, who has 31 goals in 356 NHL games. “I’ve always said you need your third-and fourth-line guys to contribute offensively. For the most part we’ve been relying on too few individuals to carry the load.”
Simon Gagne had a late empty-net goal for Philadelphia, which stopped a four-game losing skid and also picked up its fourth win in the last 18 games. Michael Leighton made 31 saves.
“When you get these, it’s a minor step,” Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s really important and the guys worked for it, especially in the third period. We need to follow it up with a whole bunch of big steps.”
The Flyers have scored three goals or more just three times in the last 15 games.
Philadelphia’s trip to Tampa got off to a strange start when Tuesday’s practice was cancelled because of a sewage line problem in their locker-room.
Tampa Bay got goals from Zenon Konopka and Victor Hedman. The Lightning, who have lost 11 of 14, were looking for their first three-game winning streak of the season.
“Unacceptable,” Konopka said. “Painful. Frustrating. It’s not good enough at all. We have the horses. If we continue on this road, we’re not making the playoffs.”
Betts put the Flyers ahead 1-0 on a fluke goal at 3:59 of the first. He was last Philadelphia player to touch the puck before Tampa Bay defenceman Andrej Meszaros accidentally sent it into his own net.
Richards made it 2-0 on his first goal in eight games, which came during a power play with 10:26 left in the first. The centre assisted on Gagne’s goal and has eight goals and 11 points in his last five games against Tampa Bay.
Konopka stopped a personal 61-game goal drought – dating to Dec. 14, 2005 – with a rebound goal to get Tampa Bay within 2-1 at 5:58 of the second. Hedman tied it at two from the top of the left circle with 7:58 remaining in the second.
“I think everybody is dejected,” Tampa Bay coach Rick Tocchet said. You’ve got to learn to win. Winning is very hard.”
Lightning centre Jeff Halpern and left wing Todd Fedoruk both left with undisclosed lower-body injuries.
NOTES: Flyers G Brian Boucher missed the game due to a right ring finger cut. … Tampa Bay rookie C James Wright was a healthy scratch. He has no points in his last 13 games and has gone 21 consecutive games without a goal. … Flyers C Darroll Powe returned after missing 16 games with a left shoulder strain. … Lightning D Mattias Ohlund played in his 800th NHL game. … Flyers D Ian Laperriere assisted on both of Betts’ goal for his first points in 23 games.