The Philadelphia Flyers tried to lull the Lightning to sleep on Wednesday. But the Tampa Bay Lightning declined to take the bait and walked out with a victory.
While Philadelphia tried to play a game of keep-away, Lightning rookie Brett Connolly helped rally Tampa Bay to a 2-1 victory with his first career winning goal 2:30 into overtime in front of an announced sellout crowd of 19,204.
The Lightning have won three consecutive games, all in overtime, and seven of the past nine overall to move into a tie with Washington for first place in the Southeast Division. Goaltender Dwayne Roloson stopped 14 shots to help Tampa Bay win for the fifth consecutive time at home. Marc-Andre Bergeron notched his third goal of the season with a third-period power-play marker that tied the game at 1.
For Connolly, the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft, it was his third goal of the season and atoned for his fanning on an open shot in the slot in the final minutes of the third.
"You want to help the team win, and I wanted to put that one away in the third period, but it was rolling and I couldn't get the shot away,'' Connolly said. "Fortunately I was able to get the OT game-winner, so it's a good feeling.''
Connolly followed up a play by Dominic Moore, who picked up the puck at center ice with speed and forced his way toward the net and put the puck on goal to set up the winner.
"Dominic Moore is a man of big moments,'' Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "He makes it happen again, going wide, crashing the net and forcing himself in and Connolly just capitalizes on crashing the net.''
But it wasn't an easy process to pick up the victory.
Philadelphia, the league's highest-scoring team, averaging four goals per game, sat back and dared the Lightning to forecheck instead of sitting back in their 1-3-1 neutral zone system. The Flyers did so against a team giving up more than 30 shots per game and missing two of its top four defensemen.
So the Flyers put forth a strategy of sitting on the puck in their zone, waiting for Tampa Bay to come forward. The first two times the Flyers instituted this style, the play was finally whistled down by the officials after the puck didn't move for more than 30 seconds, setting up a faceoff in the Flyers zone.
The Flyers then began to move the puck around, instead of sitting on it, but Tampa Bay did not break out of its system. Instead, the Lightning remained patient in what essentially looked like a game of chicken played by two parties refusing to take the first step forward.
The end result was a season-low 15 shots on goal for the Flyers and a season low allowed by Tampa Bay, which had allowed fewer than 25 shots on goal only twice this season.
"That's the fun of it, strategizing and trying different things, so we have no problem with the way teams play and we have no problem with the way we play,'' Moore said. "You just stick with your game and don't worry about the rest of it.''
It wasn't until the second period that somebody broke through as the Flyers scored on a power-play goal when Scott Hartnell tipped a Jakub Vorocek shot past Roloson at 9:34.
Bergeron, who leads all defensemen with 15 points on the season, tied the game at 7:41 of the third with a rocket one-timer from the right point for his third goal of the season with the Lightning on the man advantage.
With Philadelphia slowing the pace, it seemed to play more into the Lightning's frame of mind, wanting to play a pack-mentality defensive game with the injuries the team has been facing.
"We are missing two of your top three defensemen and we're playing the most lethal team offensively in the league,'' Boucher said. "So I think our forwards got back early and our defensemen had great gap and that's what we wanted to do tonight.''