PHILADELPHIA – Mike Richards’ winning goal was scored just the way he and Kimmo Timonen planned it.
Richards netted two goals, including the winner on a power play 2:05 into overtime, and the Philadelphia Flyers sent the Tampa Bay Lightning to their fifth straight loss with a 4-3 victory Tuesday night. Richards took a backhanded pass from Kimmo Timonen high in the slot and put a slap shot past Mike Smith.
“Kimmo and I had talked a little bit before the game just about special teams and what we wanted to do,” Richards said. “He actually drew that play up 5-on-3, but 5-on-4 was kind of the same thing.
“Bring the attention to him (Timonen). Then some guy took (Simon) Gagne backdoor, and I just walked into it. He made a great pass and I shot as hard as I could.”
The Lightning missed an opportunity to win with 16.3 seconds left in regulation when Ryan Malone was awarded a penalty shot, but his attempt went wide when Martin Biron just got a piece of the puck.
“I didn’t know he was going to go wide, but I got a toe on it,” Biron said.
Malone hit the post on a breakaway, and was given the penalty shot when Philadelphia forward Scott Hartnell threw his glove at the puck.
Hartnell said it didn’t cross his mind that a penalty shot would be called.
“It was just a desperation play,” he said. “Looking back, it was stupid.”
Jeff Carter scored Philadelphia’s other two goals and added an assist for the Flyers, who had won six straight before dropping their previous two games.
Richards scored an unassisted, short-handed goal 36 seconds into the third period to break a 1-1 tie. The Flyers lead the NHL with 10 short-handed goals.
Carter, who is tied with Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek for the league lead with 18 goals, scored on a scramble in front to put the Flyers ahead 3-1 at 4:36.
Vaclav Prospal’s power-play tally on a deflection 21 seconds later got the Lightning within a goal. Steve Downie, making his first appearance in Philadelphia for the Lightning since being acquired from the Flyers on Nov. 7, tied it on a rebound at 15:25.
Mark Recchi scored the other goal for the Lightning, who lost for the 10th time in 11 games.
“We played a good game,” Tampa Bay rookie forward Steven Stamkos said. “We showed some character coming back from 3-1, but when things aren’t going well, they really aren’t going well. It’s really tough right now with the way things are going.”
Biron made 35 saves and kept the Lightning at bay during a five-minute power play that began at the end of the first period.
Smith, who stopped 28 shots, was shaken up with 5:50 left in the second period. Prospal’s shin smacked the goalie’s head as he was down on the ice after making a sprawling save on Hartnell. He came back to deny Hartnell again in spectacular fashion on back-to-back shots during a Flyers power play later in the period.
Carter put the Flyers ahead on a power play at 2:58 of the first period with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle.
Recchi, who like Prospal and Downie is another former Flyers forward, pulled the Lightning even with a power-play goal at 11:50 of the period. Left alone in front of the net, Recchi tapped in his own rebound.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s a fine line,” said Rick Tocchet, 1-3-4 behind the Lightning bench since taking over for fired coach Barry Melrose. “When you’re losing, it gets a little contagious, so you need some kind of break to get some kind of winning streak.”
Philadelphia’s Scottie Upshall was assessed a major penalty and was ejected from the game for boarding Evgeny Artyukhin with 2:33 left in the first period.
The Flyers’ Danny Briere, who returned after missing nine games with a groin strain, was forced to leave in the second period when he experienced discomfort in the same general area.
“Our doctors think it’s scar tissue breaking up,” said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, who added that Briere would be evaluated on Wednesday.
Notes: The Flyers reassigned LW Josh Gratton to the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL. … Tampa Bay LW Ryan Malone’s five-game scoring streak was snapped. He had four goals and four assists during the run. … Artyukhin hit the post with a shot late in the second period. … Downie was recalled from Nov. 27 from Norfolk (AHL).