Tampa Bay was without its leading goal scorer, Brayden Point, who was benched Tuesday for missing a practice. Point’s teammate, Victor Hedman, arguably the league’s best defenseman, was sidelined by an injury. In addition, standout goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy did not play because he was in the nets the previous night.
The Lightning didn’t miss any of them.
You can take high-quality players out of their lineup, but no one can slow down the Lightning these days.
Tampa, which has the most points in the NHL and is the overwhelming Stanley Cup favorite, won its seventh straight as it whipped the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center, 5-2, and raised its record to 9-0-2 in the last 11 games.
Tampa built an early 3-0 lead and chased Flyers goalie Carter Hart.
“We didn’t show up on time,” said Sean Couturier, who had a pair of assists and had a late goal disallowed because of a controversial goalie-interference call. “They were all over us in the first period.”
The Flyers were handed just their second regulation loss in their last 15 games (12-2-1). They are six points out of a playoff spot with 22 games left.
With 47.5 seconds left, Couturier appeared to make it 4-3 after a wild scramble in front. The goal was negated for goalie interference. The Flyers challenged the call, but it stood -- though goalie Louis Domingue appeared to push the puck into the net himself.
“I don’t know what to say,” Couturier said. “There’s a loose puck. I hit it. I give it a second whack, and the goalie was already on his [butt]. The puck’s already in the back of the net by the second time I hit him. I saw a loose puck. I hit it. ... I don’t know what goalie interference is anymore.”
The NHL’s explanation after the video review: Couturier pushed Domingue into the net together with the puck.
With 37 seconds left, Ryan McDonagh iced the win with an empty-net tally.
J.T. Miller had a goal and an assist and backup goalie Domingue recorded his 11th straight win for the Bolts, who showed no ill effects from playing the previous night in Columbus.
For the Flyers, it was a first period to forget, a stanza in which their defense made a slew of mistakes, Hart allowed three goals on nine shots and was removed, and Brian Elliott collided with Ivan Provorov and fell to the ice behind his net.
“I have to be better,” said Hart, whose team faced a 3-0 deficit when he was pulled.
The Bolts took a 1-0 lead when Mikhail Sergachev’s point drive deflected off Shayne Gostisbehere’s left skate and past Hart with 17:38 left in the first.
About three minutes later, defenseman Andrew MacDonald lost a battle out front with Alex Killorn, who knocked in a rebound to make it 2-0.
Provorov lost the puck in the Flyers’ offensive end, enabling Tampa to go on a two-on-one, which Miller finished with a drive that went over Hart’s glove. That gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead with 9:37 remaining in the first.
The third goal haunted Hart the most.
“The guy made a good shot, but I have to make a better read,” he said.
Hart, coming off a brilliant 37-save performance Sunday in a 3-1 win in Detroit, was replaced by Elliott, who came off the injured list Tuesday and played his first NHL game since Nov. 15.
Late in the second, Domingue was sprawled on the ice when he lifted his right pad and somehow stopped Jake Voracek’s bad-angle shot that deflected off defenseman Braydon Coburn, a former Flyer.
The Flyers, who rallied from four- and three-goal deficits in overtime losses to Tampa earlier this season, tried to stage another comeback. Oskar Lindblom (seven goals in the last 14 games) tapped in Couturier’s goal-mouth feed to get the Flyers within 3-1 with 18:57 left in regulation.
After Elliott lost his stick and Yanni Gourde scored a power-play goal with 12:18 remaining, the Lightning had a 4-1 lead.
Travis Konecny converted a slick feed from Couturier to get the Flyers within 4-2 with 9:09 to go. It was Konecny’s 18th goal and seventh in the last 13 games.