The Tampa Bay Lightning are returning from a six-game road trip with a much better outlook.
The Philadelphia Flyers desperately hope to feel similarly in two weeks.
This may be a good time for the frustrated Flyers to leave home for a while, embarking on their longest road swing of the season Wednesday night when they meet the rejuvenated Lightning.
This is the first of six consecutive road games for Philadelphia (15-18-2) following a 4-1 loss to Florida on Monday in which the team was booed off the ice after every period.
A players’ only meeting followed the defeat, Philadelphia’s fourth straight and 14th in 17 games. The Flyers opened 12-5-1, but now the only team with fewer points is Carolina (24).
That’s where Philadelphia will be Saturday for the next stop on this road swing, on which the first four opponents are all outside the playoff picture. The Flyers’ next home game is Jan. 6 against Toronto.
The Flyers have been held to four goals during their four-game skid and have failed to score more than two in 12 of 14.
“We just seem to be weighed down by what’s going on,” Richards said. “We need to drop that.”
Richards and Carter each scored twice in a 6-1 home win over Tampa Bay on Nov. 2 in the lone meeting between the teams this season.
The Lightning were in a tailspin of their own recently, losing five straight and nine of 10, until closing a six-game trip with back-to-back wins. They followed a 6-3 victory in St. Louis on Friday with a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on Monday.
“It’s almost like a reassurance for our team that if you do the right things, we have a better chance of winning,” coach Rick Tocchet said.
This is the first time the Lightning have posted consecutive victories since Nov. 7-12. They haven’t won three straight since January.
Tampa Bay, kicking off a five-game homestand, had totaled seven goals in its previous six games before winning the last two.
It’s facing a Flyers team forced to start goalie Michael Leighton(notes), claimed off waivers from Carolina last week. Starter Ray Emery(notes) is sidelined following abdominal surgery earlier this month and backup Brian Boucher(notes) lacerated a finger Monday.
Leighton must contend with Steve Stamkos, who scored for the fourth time in four games Monday and is among the league leaders with 21 goals.
“I really think it’s about confidence now,” Malone said. “We know that if we stick to the game plan we can play with anyone.”