Flyers vs. Lightning – 7:30 p.m., NBCSN & CSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
The Flyers will face the toughest challenge of their four-game homestand when the high-powered Tampa Bay Lightning come to the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay has scored an NHL-best 39 goals through its first eight contests this season. In comparison, the Flyers have found the back of the net just 21 times in nine games.
Both teams should be fresh heading into Tuesday’s matchup – the second of three meetings between the Flyers and Lightning this season – as the two clubs have each had a rare two-day break since their last games.
Flyers: 3-6-0 (Fifth in Atlantic Division, 14th in Eastern Conference)
Lightning: 6-2-0 (First in Southeast Division, second in Eastern Conference)
The Flyers didn’t fare well against the Lightning in their first meeting of this lockout-shortened season. Martin St. Louis registered four helpers and Teddy Purcell had a goal and two assists to help Tampa Bay light up Flyers backup Michael Leighton in a 5-1 victory on Jan. 27. Sniper Steven Stamkos also contributed a goal and an assist. Sean Couturier scored the Flyers’ lone goal.
The Bolts are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games against the orange and black.
The Flyers scored three power-play goals and killed off five of six shorthanded situations to open their four-game homestand with a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Claude Giroux and Danny Briere each had a goal and an assist while Kurtis Foster, Braydon Coburn and Mike Knuble each tallied their first goals of the season. Ilya Bryzgalov was solid in net once again, turning aside 39 shots for his third win this season.
Tampa Bay is coming off a 3-2 loss to New York Rangers. Stamkos scored both goals for the Lightning, who concluded their five-game homestand with a 4-1 record. Backup netminder Mathieu Garon made his second start of the season, making 27 saves in a losing effort.
Keep an eye on...
With Stamkos leading the way, Tampa Bay’s offense has been flat out scary to start the season. The 22-year-old has put up seven goals, nine assists and eight power-play points during his current eight-game point streak. Stamkos, who led the NHL with 60 markers in 2011-12, has 12 goals and six assists in 17 career games against the Flyers.
St. Louis is also off to a fast start. The 37-year-old has three goals and 11 assists in eight games this season. Since 2002-03, St. Louis has registered 12 goals and 40 assists in 35 contests against the Flyers.
The Flyers have struggled to stay healthy in the early going, but Tye McGinn has filled in admirably. The rookie replaced Wayne Simmonds on the Flyers’ top line with Giroux and Briere on Saturday against the Hurricanes and has had a nice opportunity to establish himself in the early going. He has a goal and two assists in six games with the Flyers so far this season.
Feel the power
After starting 5-for-40 on the power play over the first eight games of the season, the Flyers finally found some solid production on the man advantage against Carolina. They went 3-for-3 on Saturday and raised their PP effectiveness to 18.6 percent on the season.
The Lightning carry the best power play unit in the NHL into Tuesday’s contest. Tampa has gone 13-for-36 (36.1 percent) on the man advantage through its first eight games.
In the cage
Bryzgalov has faced the Lightning seven times in his career, going 3-3-0-1 in the process with a 2.80 goals against average and .869 save percentage. Leighton started the Flyers’ first matchup with Tampa earlier this season.
In his career, Lightning starter Anders Lindback has appeared in three games against the Flyers – one with the Bolts. He has a 1-2 record with a 2.36 goals against average and .914 save percentage in those contests. He made 24 saves and allowed just one goal in Tampa’s 5-1 win over the Flyers on Jan. 27.
Did you know?
Before his second-period marker on Saturday, Knuble’s last regular-season goal as a Flyer came on April 11, 2009. The 40-year-old, who is in his second stint in orange and black, has a goal and an assist in five games with the Flyers this season.
Flyers: Simmonds is listed as day-to-day with a concussion and will not dress on Tuesday.
Scott Hartnell (left foot) and Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder) are on Injured Reserve and remain sidelined.
Lightning: Captain Vinny Lecavalier was hit in the left ankle by a hard Sami Salo shot in Saturday’s loss to the Rangers. He sat out Monday’s practice, but told the Tampa Bay Times he would be in the lineup against the Flyers.
Brendan Mikkelson is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury. Mattias Ohlund (left knee surgery) and Matt Taormina (undisclosed) are on Injured Reserve and remain out indefinitely.
What are your thoughts on McGinn?