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Lightning score 3 times in second to beat slumping Flyers 5-3

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

PHILADELPHIA - With each road victory, the Tampa Bay Lightning are desperately trying to make a late run at a playoff berth.

Once division leaders, the Philadelphia Flyers can only hope their post-season spot isn't slipping sway. Martin St. Louis had a goal and two assists to lead the Lightning to a 5-3 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday night, the Flyers' fifth straight loss.

"I think we're realizing that we've got to win some games," defenceman Dan Boyle said. "If we lose a couple we're going to be finding ourselves in the back seat here. With so few games to go it's no secret. We have to win games."

Tampa Bay, which got out of last place in the Eastern Conference, has won four of five overall. The Lightning also won their eighth straight game in Philadelphia going back to the 2002-03 season and have not lost a road game in regulation since Jan. 3.

"We play hard against these guys," said Boyle, who scored a goal. "They seem to get the best of us so we get excited to play here."

Vaclav Prospal scored his 26th goal, and Jan Hlavac and Jason Ward also scored for the Lightning, who had to look good to their new management. Johan Holmqvist made 27 saves.

The Lightning, owned by Michigan-based Palace Sports & Entertainment since 1999, announced Wednesday that it has been sold to OK Hockey LLC, a group controlled by Los Angeles TV and movie producer Oren Koules. The NHL still has to approve the deal, which is expected to be completed in 3 1/2 months.

Steve Downie, Joffrey Lupul and Jeff Carter each scored for the Flyers, who are on their longest losing streak since a six-game skid in late December.

"I think we should all be concerned," coach John Stevens said. "If we don't win hockey games, we're not going anywhere."

The Flyers have slumped since spending time in first place in the Atlantic Division last month. The Flyers were sloppy with the puck and twice allowed Tampa Bay to score after turnovers behind their own net, which certainly didn't help goalie Martin Biron.

"We've done good things in bits and parts of the games, but we haven't done it for a whole game for five games. That's why we're in the situation we're in," Flyers captain Jason Smith said.

Trailing 2-1 entering the second period, the Lightning touched Biron for three goals in the period that allowed them to take over the game.

Boyle, who missed 36 games this season after wrist surgery, tied the score with a power-play goal early in the period.

Hlavac's eighth goal of the season midway through the second put Tampa Bay ahead for good, 3-2.

Boyle tried for his second goal of the game later in the period, but his slapper bounced off St. Louis' stick and the puck popped over Biron's shoulder for his 21st goal a 4-2 lead.

"We lost a lot of games this year in the last couple of minutes on bad bounces or just some bonehead plays," Lightning centre Brad Richards said. "We're scoring some big goals in the second period and taking some leads instead of getting it against us late in the third or in those big momentum times of the game."

Tampa Bay also capitalized in the first and third periods on Philadelphia's miscues behind the net.

In the first, Jim Vandermeer tried to clear out the puck, but St. Louis swiped it and fed it to a nearby Prospal for a 1-0 lead.

Then Kimmo Timonen simply lost control in the third and Ward was there to quickly poke the puck past Biron for a 5-2 lead.

The goal came in handy as Carter scored his 19th goal minutes later that cut it to 5-3. The Flyers led 2-1 after the first period on Lupul's 18th goal and Downie's fifth.

"What I sense is, we are just playing the game," Stevens said. "We are not dictating the pace of play."

Notes: Flyers D Derian Hatcher sat out with fluid in his right knee. ... The Philadelphia Phantoms, the Flyers AHL affiliate, will induct Bob Clarke into their Hall of Fame on March 30. ... The Flyers are the only team with six 18-plus goal scorers. ... Boyle tied Pavel Kubina for most goals by a Lightning defenceman in team history (65). ... St. Louis recorded his 200th goal with Tampa Bay.



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