The simplest way for the Tampa Bay Lightning to catch the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers is to beat them head-to-head. With three such victories down, a fourth would pull them even closer.
Surging Tampa Bay goes for a season sweep of Philadelphia when the division leaders meet Tuesday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Lightning (34-17-5) have won eight of 10, defeating Carolina 4-3 in overtime Saturday. If they can win in regulation Tuesday, they'll move within two points of the Flyers for the conference lead.
Against the Hurricanes, the Lightning blew a 3-1 advantage by allowing two goals 19 seconds apart in the final minute, but defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron's first goal with Tampa Bay salvaged the win in overtime.
"Big goals at big moments ... I'm happy, but not surprised," said coach Guy Boucher, whose team improved to 5-2-0 on its 12-game homestand.
"We've been doing that all year," Lecavalier said. "Sometimes teams tighten up, but we seem to always rebound to come back and win the game."
Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves and improved to 9-5-0 with a 2.63 goals-against average since being acquired from the New York Islanders on Jan. 1. He also has four shutouts, one of them a 4-0 win over the Flyers on Feb. 1.
Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis have powered Tampa Bay offensively against Philadelphia this season. Stamkos has five goals and an assist in the three meetings, and recorded a hat trick in an 8-7 victory Nov. 18.
St. Louis had five assists in that contest and added two each in the other matchups.
Philadelphia (36-14-5) has also been playing well, thanks in large part to its goaltending.
Brian Boucher has gone 6-2-0 with a 2.09 GAA in his last nine games, while Sergei Bobrovsky is 7-2-0 with a 2.04 GAA over his last nine. Bobrovsky turned in another excellent performance Sunday, making 24 saves, but the Flyers had a three-game win streak snapped in a 1-0 defeat to Los Angeles.
Bobrovsky, though, was pulled after the first period in both of his starts against Tampa Bay this season, giving up seven goals on 17 shots. Boucher started one meeting and relieved Bobrovsky in the other two, and is 0-2-0 with a 3.51 GAA in the season series.
While the Flyers haven't lost back-to-back games since late December, they're suffering from a sudden lack of offense. Philadelphia outshot the Kings 40-25, but it has scored eight goals in the last five games. The Flyers are tops in the conference with 182 goals.
"We haven't generated as many chances as I'd like," Laviolette told the NHL's official website. "Although it wasn't a long-term plan, it was more to give it a different look and a different feel. I think it was just trying to attack more offensively. I think we probably got close to 20 quality chances tonight but couldn't solve their goaltender."
Nikolay Zherdev had three goals and an assist in the first two meetings with the Lightning, and Danny Briere scored a goal in each contest.
The Flyers acquired forward Kris Versteeg from Toronto on Monday for draft picks. Versteeg has 35 points in 53 games this season.
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