TAMPA – The Lightning played its first 1 p.m. game of the season Saturday, though the joke in the dressing room afterward was the players thought it was a 2 p.m. start.
You would agree if you saw the way the Lightning played in the first 20 minutes. It was outworked, outshot and outscored.
Once the Lightning joined the action, though, the matinee against the Flyers was as wild and as entertaining as any game the Lightning has played in recent memory, with 12 goals scored in regulation.
The game ended in a shootout, with Brayden Point scoring the winner and Steven Stamkos scoring the clincher for a 7-6 victory.
"I just met a couple of kids who (were at) their first game," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, "so I'm pretty sure they'll be back."
Cooper might want to arrange for Lesley Stamkos to return a few times in the postseason, too. She celebrated her birthday at Amalie Arena – among an announced sellout crowd of 19,092 – by watching her son record a career-high five points, including two goals in regulation.
Victor Hedman, who scored twice, tied his career high with four points.
Nikita Kucherov returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury and had three assists.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed a season-high six goals and was still one of the top players in the game.
It was that kind of afternoon for the Lightning (45-17-4), which set a franchise record with its fifth straight game going past regulation. It tied a franchise mark by winning a game in which it twice trailed by at least two goals. This was the third time that has happened, and the second against Philadelphia (an 8-7 regulation win in November 2010; the other such comeback was a 5-4 shootout win over the Devils in March 2013).
The Flyers led 3-1 after one period and 5-3 early in the third.
The Lightning scored three straight goals, the last from Hedman, to take a 6-5 lead midway through the third. But the Flyers tied it with just under three minutes remaining.
"It was obviously not the game plan we envisioned," Stamkos said.
But the Lightning will take it because a win is a win, but also because the players learned a little something about themselves.
The Flyers, no strangers to 1 p.m. starts, entered the game having turned in their second-best February in franchise history, 10-1-2.
"Any time you're down a couple of goals in different parts of the game, especially in the third, and you come back and win, it's emotional," Stamkos said. "It shows guys care. Guys never gave up."
Said Yanni Gourde, "That was really a character win."
The Lightning came alive in the second period and tied the score at 3 on a blast from Dan Girardi from just inside the blue line.
But the Flyers went ahead late in the period when Jori Lehtera scored when Vasilevskiy was screened by Hedman.
They went up 5-3 1:06 into the third on a goal by Ivan Provorov.
"They score pretty much right away, a lot of times you can fold as a team," Hedman said. "but our resiliency and tenacity picked up after that."
With the score tied at 6, the Lightning defense finally took over. Vasilevskiy came up big in the overtime, especially when the Flyers had a 4-on-3 because of a hooking penalty on Kucherov.
"We weren't sharp from the start and had to chase from behind the whole game," Hedman said. "The resiliency was really there, and obviously, really happy with the way we came back. But if you score six, you want to win in regulation, but we'll take the two points."
Contact Roger Mooney at [email protected]. Follow @rogermooney50.
Tampa Bay 1-2-3-0—7
Tampa Bay won shootout 2-0.
First Period—1, Philadelphia, Patrick 10 (Voracek, Giroux), 7:08 (pp). 2, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 26 (Hedman, Kucherov), 8:16 (pp). 3, Philadelphia, Voracek 14 (Patrick), 14:30. 4, Philadelphia, Hagg 3 (Provorov, Laughton), 18:07.
Second Period—5, Tampa Bay, Hedman 10 (Kucherov, Stamkos), 5:57. 6, Tampa Bay, Girardi 4 (Hedman, Stamkos), 12:47. 7, Philadelphia, Lehtera 2 (Weal, Filppula), 16:15.
Third Period—8, Philadelphia, Provorov 12 (Filppula), 1:06. 9, Tampa Bay, Miller 14 (Point, Gourde), 4:23. 10, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 27 (Kucherov, Killorn), 7:38. 11, Tampa Bay, Hedman 11 (Stamkos), 10:03. 12, Philadelphia, Giroux 23 (Provorov, Couturier), 17:07.
Shootout—Philadelphia 0 (Couturier NG, Patrick NG), Tampa Bay 2 (Conacher NG, Point G, Stamkos G).
Shots on Goal—Philadelphia 14-11-14-4—43. Tampa Bay 6-10-15-4—35.
Power-play opportunities—Philadelphia 1 of 5; Tampa Bay 1 of 1.
Goalies—Philadelphia, Mrazek 11-8-4 (35 shots-29 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 38-12-3 (43-37).
A—19,092 (19,092). T—2:48. Referees—Tom Kowal, Dan O'Halloran. Linesmen—Steve Barton, Andrew Smith.