A dismal season for the Philadelphia Flyers has the potential to get even worse.
The Flyers look to end a franchise-record 10-game losing streak against an opponent they have lost 10 straight meetings to as they face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday at St. Pete Times Forum.
Philadelphia (8-24-4) had star center Peter Forsberg back in the lineup for the first time in four games Wednesday, but he couldn’t prevent the Flyers from a 3-1 defeat at Florida.
Forsberg, who missed three games with a concussion, had a pair of good scoring chances but did not register a point. He has been limited to 24 games this season due to various injuries.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been on the ice. I couldn’t move for the longest time there,” Forsberg said. “But it’s good to be back. It’s just too bad we didn’t win the game.”
While their best forward returned, the Flyers got another dose of bad news when starting goalie Antero Niittymaki left after two periods with what general manager Paul Holmgren described as a slight hip strain.
“I felt a little sore the whole game, more and more every time I went down,” said Niittymaki, who was making his 16th straight start. “I felt it was better to be safe than sorry.”
Robert Esche replaced Niittymaki and stopped eight of nine shots in the third period in his first appearance after missing 11 games due to groin surgery.
Philadelphia, which owns the league’s worst record, was held to one goal or fewer for the fifth time during the 10-game skid. The Flyers haven’t won since beating the New York Islanders 3-2 on Nov. 30.
“We did some good things at times, but we dropped the ball at times where we didn’t get to the loose puck,” Flyers coach John Stevens said.
The Flyers have been outscored 9-3 in losing both meetings against the Lightning this season, extending their losing streak in the series to 10.
Most of those 10 games haven’t been close, with Tampa Bay winning seven times by at least three goals. Philadelphia hasn’t beaten the Lightning since April 4, 2003.
Tampa Bay (17-18-2) gave up a goal with 8.1 seconds left in regulation Tuesday at Atlanta and was denied its fourth straight victory in a 2-1 setback.
“It’s very tough. Not only did we need a win, but we let them get a win,” Lightning center Tim Taylor said. “We take one step forward and one step back.”
St. Louis has seven goals and eight points in his last seven games, while Lecavalier has three goals and four assists during a four-game points streak. Lecavalier has at least one point in 12 of his past 13 contests.
Lightning coach John Tortorella has an interesting decision to make regarding his starting goaltender for Thursday.
Johan Holmqvist played well in Tuesday’s loss in his first start since Dec. 12, stopping 27 shots. Marc Denis won his previous two starts, but was replaced by Holmqvist after allowing three goals on 16 shots through two periods Saturday before the Lightning rallied for a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers.