TAMPA -- Two mistakes. They resulted in two goals. Both with Steve Downie involved.
That was pretty much the difference in the Flyers' 4-2 loss on Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum to the Lightning.
This was huge, too.
Coupled with the Rangers' 2-1 win over Buffalo, New York clinched second place in the Metro Division and home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
The best the Flyers can do is third place, but unless they turn it around, they could easily slip to the wild card and face ... Boston? It’s a possibility.
“There were two mistakes and they went into the net,” said Flyers coach Craig Berube. “There was one on the [Eric] Brewer goal ... Downie lost his 'D' coming in.”
Downie left Brewer all alone for an open shot that made it 3-1 and more or less iced the game.
“We go play Pittsburgh and try to win the game,” Berube said. “You can’t catch the Rangers, so we can’t catch them.”
In the first period, Downie tried a risky play in neutral ice, turned the puck over and the Bolts had a 1-0 lead they held till late in the second period when Wayne Simmonds tied it with his 15th power play goal and 27th overall (see Instant Replay).
“The first five minutes, we turned the puck over a couple times and they ended up getting a goal,” Berube said. “Other than that, I liked the way we played tonight. We didn’t finish good enough.”
The Lighting scored three goals in the final period.
Tampa Bay received some surreal goaltending from Anders Lindback, who earned just his seventh win -- three against the Flyers this season. Lindback had 34 saves -- 26 through two periods.
“It makes a big difference if we score earlier,” Berube said.
Lindback outplayed Ray Emery, but Emery didn’t lose this game on his own merit.
“I got to makes saves in the third,” Emery said, shouldering blame that was not his. “We wanted it and wanted home ice, and it’s a disappointing third period.”
Tampa, much like the Rangers, owns the Flyers on their home ice. The Flyers are now 1-6-1 here since 2010-11.
“We had tons of chances, that part of our game was there,” Simmonds said. “We got our chances. Seemed like he was pulling saves out of his butt there. A lot it didn’t look like he was really in position and their defenders were making saves off their shin pads and stuff like that.”
And now home ice is gone.
“That doesn’t help,” Simmonds said. “We played well for 40 [minutes] again and we were hit or miss in the third. We had some really good shifts and some bonehead plays that cost us the game. We got to keep building the next two games.
“We’re not playing the way we were in the middle of the year. Obviously, that has to change. Third periods are going to be huge come playoff time. It starts next game. I don’t think you can flip a switch.
“We got to try and turn this around the next two games in the third periods. I think we’ve been playing great for 40 minutes the last few game,s but for some reason we don’t play a complete 20. We’ll play 15, 10 or 17.”
Columbus remains tied with the Flyers in points with 91, but is still fourth because the Flyers have won one more game in regulation/overtime (38 vs. 37).
Simmonds insisted consistency has to improve before the playoffs start next week.
“It’s a mindset,” he said. “You can’t practice playing consistently for 60 minutes. You just got to have it in your mind. You got to have a short memory. Sometimes we make mistakes and kind of dwell on them. That can’t happen. You got to have a short memory in this game.”
It’s going to take a hell of a mindset for the Flyers to forget that they blew home ice. And perhaps more.