Handzus snapped a tie with 7:23 left Saturday as the Flyers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2.
“It’s nice and it was my turn but I think that every goal is important,” said Handzus, who leads Philadelphia with five game-winners among his 13 goals.
Esche, who came with Handzus from Phoenix before the season, said that it was tough to keep focus against the Lightning.
“You’re playing more games mentally than you are with anything else,” he explained. “But hey, it can be 9-8 or 1-0. It doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the year, they don’t ask you how you won.”
Handzus said that he probably didn’t play as well as he should have in Phoenix.
“It was a new chance for me to play here,” the fifth-year center said. “Everybody likes to play a lot. I’ve always wanted to be a two-way player so I am trying to play both ends—defense and offense. I’m scoring more goals this season. It’s been a good turnaround.”
Handzus scored 15 goals in 79 games with Phoenix last season. His single-season high was 25 goals in 1999-2000 with the St. Louis Blues.
Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier scored his 100th career goal with 7:31 left in the second period to tie it at 2.
At 22 years, 9 months, Lecavalier is the youngest active NHL player to reach 100 goals. He scored on a wrist shot from the left circle.
“Philly’s a good team,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. “They’re stingy. All we can do is try to stop the bleeding and continue to work hard. Hopefully we’ll start getting some breaks.”
Prospal, a former Flyers player, put the Lightning ahead at 6:17 of the first period on Tampa Bay’s first shot. He one-timed a centering pass from Martin St. Louis.
Recchi tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal with 8:22 left in the period after Simon Gagne threaded a pass through traffic in the crease.
Johnsson scored on a slap shot from inside the blue line with the Flyers holding a two-man advantage at 5:58 of the second period.
Tampa Bay’s Tim Taylor didn’t blame the Lightning’s loss on a lack of effort.
“The one good thing is that I thought we battled hard against a team that thought they were going to run us over,” he said. “It’s a good learning lesson for us.”
Tampa C Brad Richards was attending his grandmother’s funeral and missed his second straight game. … The Lightning played their second game in two days after losing at home to Pittsburgh on Friday. … St. Louis tied his career high when he picked up his 22nd assist on Prospal’s goal. … The Flyers are unbeaten in 13 games (9-0-4) against the Lightning at home. … Tampa’s only win in Philadelphia was Jan. 9, 1997. … Lightning G Nikolai Khabibilin has won once in 10 career starts against the Flyers.