TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) — Captain Mike Richards and All-Star
Jeff Carter are proving the Philadelphia Flyers knew what they
were doing at the 2003 draft.
Richards recorded two goals and an assist and Carter also scored
twice as the Philadelphia Flyers stormed past the Tampa Bay
Lightning, 6-1, on Friday.
With the two goals, Carter raised his season total to 32,
putting him one ahead of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the
Scott Hartnell and defenseman Randy Jones each netted a tally
and set up another for the Flyers, who had won just one of their
previous five road games (1-2-2).
Antero Niittymaki made 41 saves and also registered an assist
for Philadelphia. One of the stops by the Finnish goaltender,
who improved to 10-2-2 in his last 14 starts, came on a penalty
shot by All-Star Martin St. Louis early in the third period.
“I felt pretty good,” Niittymaki said. “I had a lot of work,
but I was able to see most of the shots. I got lucky a couple
of times, and that’s all you need.”
Former Flyer Vaclav Prospal scored the lone goal for the
Lightning, who had two tallies disallowed en route to having
their three-game home winning streak snapped.
“The score doesn’t indicate, but it’s a loss,” said Tampa Bay’s
Ryan Malone, whose team had won seven of its previous nine home
meetings with Philadelphia. “I give them credit. They did what
they had to do to get the job done.”
Entering with just one goal in his previous 12 games, Richards
got things started for Philadelphia in this one. On a partial
breakaway, the 24th overall pick in 2003 faked a slap shot from
the slot and drifted to his left before sliding the puck around
fallen goaltender Mike Smith and into the vacant net at 7:03 of
the first period.
“The puck kind of followed me tonight a little bit,” Richards
said. “I feel I was getting the chances before. I just wasn’t
getting the results. I felt good (after) a couple days off for
the All-Star break.”
After Jones gave the Flyers a 2-1 edge during a power play just
over eight minutes into the middle session, the 23-year-old
Richards chased down a loose puck at the left hash marks and
wristed it past Smith with 5:19 remaining to double the lead.
“A lot of it lately has been kind of my play, just turning pucks
over and not moving my feet,” Richards said of his recent
struggles. “I felt like I lacked energy in the game. Tonight,
I felt good.”
Philadelphia coach John Stevens credited Richards for his
impressive effort after having absorbed the blame in the media
for Tuesday’s loss at Florida.
“He’s an up-front guy, taking all the bullets,” Stevens said.
“I had this feeling he would have a good game today because
sometimes a players gets in that position and they’re going to
deflect the blame somewhere else. He always takes the blame
himself and he always wants to make a difference.”
Selected 13 spots before Richards in 2003, Carter made it 4-1
with a shot from the blue line that got by a screened Smith at
7:59 of the third. Hartnell tallied less than three minutes
later, and the 24-year-old Carter completed his sixth two-goal
performance of the season with 6:52 to go.
Picking up the puck at the blue line, Carter skated down the
left side and cut toward the net to thwart an oncoming defender
before gliding across the doorstep and lifting the puck past
That ended the night for the 26-year-old goalie, who made 26
saves. Riku Helenius, who was drafted 15th overall in 2006,
came on and stopped both shots he faced in his NHL debut.
After Prospal forged a 1-1 tie with a man-advantage goal with
2:05 left in the first period, another former Flyer appeared to
give the Lightning the lead with time winding down.
Veteran Mark Recchi saw the puck go off his left skate and past
Niittymaki with 38 seconds to go in the session, but following a
lengthy video review, it was ruled a distinct kicking motion was
made, negating the tally.
“I didn’t kick it in, and if they had (expletive) common sense,
they would know it hit my feet so quick,” Recchi said. “That
was a big difference in the game. They made the wrong call, and
if you look in fast motion, there’s no way I can react to the
puck. It hits my shin pad, hits the top of my foot and goes in
the net. It’s a terrible call on their part.”
Just over five minutes into the third, St. Louis was hooked from
behind by Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen, setting up a
penalty shot. But Niittymaki got his glove on the former Hart
Trophy winner’s shot, keeping St. Louis scoreless on four career
Two minutes later, Tampa Bay thought it pulled within 3-2 as
rookie Steven Stamkos batted the puck out of mid-air and past
Niittymaki. But the replay officials again stymied the
Lightning, ruling the 2008 first overall pick’s stick was above
the crossbar when he made contact with the puck.
“I’m 100 percent sure (it wasn’t a high stick),” the 18-year-old
Stamkos said. “Sometimes you see guys aren’t sure, they look
back at the referee to see if it’s a goal, but I was sure.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I know where it hit on my stick. I didn’t
hit the puck initially in the air, I hit it on the way down.
It’s a tough one to swallow.”
The Flyers knew they were fortunate to have the calls go their
“We obviously got a few breaks, a couple of goals disallowed,”
Stevens said. “It’s not often you see your team get two breaks
like that, but I think we were due for some breaks.”
“When the goals happened, I didn’t think about them not being
goals,” Niittymaki said. “They were both probably tough goals.
I mean, the referee was spending a lot of time with those
headphones, so I’m sure they were double-checking them a couple