When the Philadelphia Flyers celebrated last season’s Eastern Conference championship on Monday night, a key member of that team was missing.
Playing his first game at Wells Fargo Center since being traded in the offseason, Gagne will try to help the Lightning snap a five-game losing streak to his former club.
In their first regular-season home game since Chicago clinched the Stanley Cup on June 9 with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 6, the Flyers (2-0-1) defeated Colorado 4-2 on Monday after their conference championship banner was raised to the rafters.
Gagne was a major contributor to the club’s first finals appearance in 13 years, scoring nine times and adding three assists in 19 playoff games.
But after a 10-year run with the Flyers that saw him record 259 goals and 265 assists - ranked ninth and 16th, respectively, in franchise history - Gagne waived his no-trade clause and was shipped to Tampa Bay on July 19 for defenseman Matt Walker(notes) and a fourth-round draft pick.
“I had some good times (in Philadelphia),” Gagne told the Lightning’s official website on Monday. “But it’s time for a new chapter in my life. Sometimes, as a hockey player, you need these changes to get an extra boost. I’m looking forward to that challenge.”
Facing the Flyers has been a challenge for the Lightning, who have been outscored 28-8 during their losing streak in this matchup.
In the teams’ last game in Philadelphia, the Flyers won 4-1 on Jan. 9 behind two scores from Blair Betts(notes) and one apiece from Scott Hartnell(notes) and Claude Giroux(notes), who already has two short-handed goals in 2010-11.
“Any time you can score goals, you obviously gain more confidence,” Giroux said Monday after scoring off the first of captain Mike Richard’s two assists. “You feel great about yourself.”
The Lightning (2-0-0) feel that way as they try to build off Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory at Montreal.
Tampa Bay has started with two wins for the first time since opening 3-0-0 in 2007-08.
“Everyone is following the leader. It starts from the top,” said Malone, referring to first-year general manager Steve Yzerman and rookie coach Guy Boucher. “…We’re sick of losing, that’s for sure.”
Boucher did not face the Lightning in any of the team’s four matchups last season - his first with the Flyers since 2001-02.
Tampa Bay went 9-1-0 in Philadelphia prior to its current skid at Wells Fargo Center.