Simon Gagne scored two goals, Peter Forsberg had three assists and Robert Esche made 42 saves, helping Philadelphia stop a franchise-record, 10-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. “Thankfully, we got the win,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “There haven’t been a lot of smiling faces around here lately. The bottom line, I thought the work ethic and the fight on the puck was terrific.”
Alexei Zhitnik and Sami Kapanen also scored for the Flyers, who won for the first time since beating the New York Islanders 3-2 on Nov. 30.
“It’s been a struggle,” Forsberg said. “We have not played as good as we wanted. As a team, I think we played a good game.”
Philadelphia also ended a 10-game regular-season losing streak against the Lightning. The Flyers’ previous win against Tampa Bay came on April 4, 2003.
“I felt like it was a big game for us,” Forsberg said. “We needed to put a stop on this losing streak we had, especially playing Tampa. We had a long losing streak against them too, so it’s great to get a win.”
Tampa Bay got goals from Martin St. Louis, Filip Kuba and Ruslan Fedotenko. The Lightning have lost 10 of 14.
“We’re going to get ourselves out of this,” Tampa Bay centre Brad Richards said. “It’s got to stop.”
The Flyers went up 4-1 in the second when Gagne scored his second of the game at 9:30 and Kapanen had a breakaway goal with 17.9 seconds remaining.
Kuba had a power-play goal at 1:18 of the third before Fedotenko cut the Lightning deficit to 4-3 with 5:58 to play.
Zhitnik stopped a personal 21-game goal-scoring drought to put the Flyers up 1-0 on the power play at 4:01 of the first. After St. Louis’ 5-on-3 power-play goal tied it at 10:06, Gagne made it 2-1 during a 2-on-1 with 3:19 left in the period.
“We needed a good start and it just wasn’t there,” Lightning coach John Tortorella said. “No excuse, and I have no explanation.”
Esche made a glove save on Dan Boyle’s shot from the top of the top circle during a 1:08 5-on-3 Tampa Bay power play midway through the second. The goalie was making his first start and second appearance since undergoing right groin surgery on Nov. 29.
“It’s a game we’ve got to win at this time of the year against a team that’s struggling,” Lightning defenceman Dan Boyle said. “We need a more balanced attack.”
Notes: Washington (1975) and San Jose (1993) hold the NHL record for consecutive losses with 17. The third longest skid was 15 games by the Philadelphia Quakers from Nov. 29, 1930-Jan. 8, 1931. The Quakers ceased operations after finishing the 1930-31 season with a 4-36-4 record. … The Flyers called up G Scott Munroe from Philadelphia of the AHL to replace injured G Antero Niittymaki (slight left hip strain). RW Darren Reid was reassigned to the minors. … Richards assisted on Kuba’s goal for his 400th NHL point.