Turn Around Ahead: Garon and Stamkos Star

By on December 28, 2011

Mathieu Garon shut the Flyers down (photo by USPresswire/Kim Klement)

Tampa, Fla.– With the Flyers a calling with a holiday visit to the arena formerly,  well let’s not go there I’m confused.  With “Tampa Bay Times Forum” already inked on the ice, I was thinking that old cliché, this is a must win game.  As must win as you could get in the National Hockey League in December. The Flyers boasting fourth place in the Eastern Conference would be the perfect opponent to start to turn this season around.  The Flyers, a top team in the National Hockey League Eastern Conference (#4), I wanted to see the Bolts come out with their big boy pants on and stop this heartless effort.  This game would be a good barometer of, if the Lightning could turn the corner on the season and make sure the proverbial light is not a train.

Defenseman Bruno Gervais guided a wrist shot (only his team’s second shot) past Llya Bryzgalov who was screened on the play.  The puck twisted it way through his five-hole.  1-0 Bolts, a huge goal in the wake of the way things have been going.   Adam Hall picked up the lone assist much to the delight of the visiting Michigan State players and fans here in beautiful Tampa for Monday’s Outback Bowl.  A roar bellowed from the Michigan State Spartan section when Hall’s helper was announced.

The Flyers get even with less than two minutes left in the period when Scott Hartnell drove a big rebound past Mathieu Garon.    A shot off the tape of Claude Giroux was kicked out by Garon and Hartnell did not waste.  The goal would be the only factor the many Flyers fans in attendance would have to get obnoxious about. Score knotted 1-1.

The first twenty minutes concluded with the Flyers out-shooting the home town blue clad Bolts 17-4.  Many of the 16 shots that did not go in were good scoring chances that were shut down by Mathieu Garon, who was voted the number star stopping thirty-one Philadelphia shots for the game.  Garon said, “I think everybody chipped in tonight and worked really hard…I’m feeling good and want to take it one game at a time.”

With the score tied at one it left me thinking it did not look good for the Lightning.

Oh yea, and by the way, like the Lightning need more troubles on defense,  Victor Hedman left the game in the first period with an upper body injury and would  not return.

The second twenty minutes was a different chapter as the Lightning scored three times and shut down the Flyers forward attack.

Pavel Kubina made a nifty defensive play in front of his own goal that led to a Lightning lead.

After the Kubina play, on the other end of the ice Steven Stamkos picked up a rebound off the leg pad of Bryzgalov and red light on.  2-1 Tampa.  The play was started behind the goal by Ryan Malone who patiently fed defenseman Brett Clark at the mid-point.  Clark skated left to procure a shooting lane and got a solid shot on goal as Stamkos cleaned up the leftovers.

Later in the second, Steve Downie collected a rebound and knocked it home from a sharp angle on a wide open goal courtesy of Llya Brygalov being out of position.   The goal would be inked as an even strength goal but came just five seconds after Flyers winger Harry Zolnierczyk was released from the sin-  bin for a slashing sentence. An improbable two goal lead; given amount of time the Lightning spent in their own end back checking, being out-shot 17-8 and down a defenseman.

At 12:32 the 19,204 witnessed some good old fashion hockey when Flyers Wayne Simmonds enters the ring with Eric Brewer.  The fight ended badly for Brewer when Simmonds landed a solid upper cut that knocked Brewer out.  Brewer was helped to the dressing room while blood slid down his face.

Great! Two defensemen down might really propose a problem for the home team.

“Oh he (James Wyman) was there, oh yea I sent him back there.  I had him in the American League at Hamilton, the year before we had him he was a defenseman.”  Said Guy Boucher regarding playing without Brewer and Hedman.

As far as the game assessment Boucher said, “I think, real bad first, real good second, and third period we just try to manage it so that the opponent can’t get enough momentum.”

Ryan Malone said, “It was a weird game, their all weird right now it feels like, we’re not where we want to be right now.”

The Bolts take a commanding 4-1 lead at 18:45 on a beautiful set-up by Steve Downie to Steven Stamkos.  The power play goal was started by good hustle behind the goal as Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis played pitch and catch on the end boards.  St. Louis kept the puck alive getting it to Downie.

Stamkos finished the game with two goals on two shots and tied with Marion Gaboriak for the league lead in goals at twenty-two. “It looked like we frustrated them a little bit…Gar-ey (Garon) has been playing great lately.” Stamkos said after the game.

The second intermission scoreboard stated Lightning 4, Flyers 1. “We scored goals and only allowed three shots. Our second period was really solid.” Guy Boucher said.

Vinny Lecavalier puts a cosmetic mark on the board at 19:00 as he snapped one off the crossbar and down which Llya Brygalov is still looking to see.  Vinny skated down the right wing receiving a beautiful cross ice pass form Marty St. Louis.  Real hi-light reel stuff, the face of the Lightning, Lecavalier and St. Louis.  As the sound of the biscuit was singing off the crossbar, I heard…enough is enough let’s turn this thing around!

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