PHILADELPHIA (TICKER) —The Philadelphia Flyers’ offense has disappeared again.
After winning 10 of 11 games, the Flyers have scored just one goal in three consecutive losses, including back-to-back shutout defeats for the first time since October 1999. From November 2-December 2, Philadelphia scored more than two goals just once in 14 games, going 4-6-4 with four shutout defeats.
“It only takes a couple of games and it seems like the wheels are falling off,” Flyers captain Keith Primeau said. “We are still doing well going into the (All-Star) break, but it would have been better if we had won tonight and Thursday (at New Jersey). We want to stop this before it gets any worse.”
Former Flyer Ruslan Fedotenko tallied in the first period and St. Louis capitalized on a turnover in the Philadelphia zone late in the second, scoring his team-leading 24th goal to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead.
Modin capped the scoring midway through the third with a shorthanded goal, sealing the victory for Grahame. Acquired from Boston on January 13, the 27-year-old turned aside 11 shots in the second period and 16 in the third for his first shutout with Tampa Bay and second this season.
“I’ve just simplified my game since I’ve been here and it’s really paid off,” Grahame said. “I’m trying to use all the attributes that I have, my size, and just make things come to me instead of being too aggressive. There is a time to be aggressive and a time not to be.”
The win was just the second in 23 visits to Philadelphia for the Lightning, who improved to 3-1-1 in their last five games overall.
“I thought we played really well as a team,” St. Louis said. “I thought our `D’ moved the puck, the forwards got the puck really deep and we didn’t make too many mistakes. When we did make mistakes, Grahame came up very strong for us. It’s a big boost when you do make a mistake and your goalie comes across and makes a big save.”
“The four wins we’ve had this month have been against Ottawa, Dallas, Detroit and Philly,” Lightning coach John Tortorella noted. “Just walking off the bench tonight, it just aggravates me when you show up and beat those teams and it’s just frustrating when you let those other points get away. We come off a three-game road trip and we get four out of six (points). We’ll go home with that and get ready for Carolina (on Thursday).”
Traded by the Flyers last June, Fedotenko repaid his former club midway through the opening period to give Grahame all the support he needed.
Rookie defenseman Dennis Seidenberg failed to complete a pass in his own zone, banking it off St. Louis’ skate to Modin, who sent the first-time All-Star in alone. After deking Cechmanek to the ice, St. Louis lifted a backhander over the fallen goalie with 39 seconds to go in the second for a two-goal cushion.
“It’s always big when you score a goal at the end of the period,” St. Louis said. “It’s kind of a back-breaker for the other team and it gives some momentum for your team. And I thought we played a strong third period.”
With the Flyers trying to halve the deficit on a power play in the third, St. Louis stripped Mark Recchi of the puck at the blue line and skated down the left side. Spotting Modin alone in the slot, St. Louis threaded a pass and the 6-4 Swede wristed a shot past Cechmanek at 13:43 to secure Tampa Bay’s first win in Philadelphia since January 9, 1997.
“One team was ready to win and willing to pay the price and the other was wanting to win but not willing to pay the price. We were guilty of the second part,” Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. “They won all the battles for pucks, they checked harder than we did and they came in and played a great road game against us. We had too many passengers today. We had players who didn’t want to compete at the level of the game. That’s disappointing.”
“It’s amazing what a lack of effort and sticking to the game plan with a lot of energy will do,” said Jeremy Roenick, Philadelphia’s lone All-Star representative. “We got a little complacent in the game and the parity is too good right now and the teams are too good. We’re not digging in the dirty areas and we’re paying for it. We have to go back to the drawing board and start working again.”
Named to the Eastern Conference All-Star roster as an injury replacement earlier in the day, Vincent Lecavalier just missed his 22nd goal 4:45 into the third, ringing a shot from the left faceoff circle off the post.
Grahame made several big saves to improve to 3-1-0 with Tampa Bay, including a glove stop on defenseman Kim Johnsson with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the first. He also forced Jamie Wright to shoot wide on a first-period breakaway.