TAMPA, Fla. - After being sidelined for nearly a month by a dislocated right shoulder, Blair Betts slowly is regaining his form.
Tonight, the fourth-line center chipped in with a pair of goals as the Flyers ended a four-game losing streak, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-2, at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Betts tipped in a shot taken by Oskars Bartulis with 9 minutes, 59 seconds remaining, snapping a 2-2 tie and helping the Flyers register just their fourth win in their last 18 games.
Mike Richards' second goal of the night, with 2:38 left, secured the victory. Simon Gagne added an empty-net score.
In a team meeting earlier in the day, coach Peter Laviolette told his players they were playing too tight, that they needed to enjoy themselves more.
"When you keep losing games, it's hard to make jokes and have fun on the ice," Gagne said before the game.
Gagne said Laviolette told the players to relax and noted that they "have nothing to lose."
With Darroll Powe back in the lineup, it meant all of the Flyers' top 12 forwards were playing together for the first time this season.
Powe, one of the Flyers' fastest skaters, has the speed to make him perfectly suited to play in Laviolette's attacking system.
"He plays an aggressive-style system, and that fits my game nice," Powe said before the game. "I'm antsy to get out there and see how I fit in."
In his first 10 games as the Flyers' coach, Laviolette was not impressed with the team's speed.
"We need to play the game faster than what we're doing now, so you get guys like Betts and Powe back in there who can really skate, I think it strengthens the identity we're trying to create," said Laviolette, who lives in Sarasota, Fla., in the off-season and was reunited with his family Tuesday night.
Powe's return had a ripple effect on the lineup, causing the LCB Line - Ian Laperriere, Betts and Dan Carcillo - to be reunited.
It paid early dividends. Carcillo took a shot that goalie Mike Smith turned aside, but Betts knocked in the rebound to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead after 3:59. It marked just the second time in the last eight games that the Flyers had scored first.
Powe, who had been sidelined since Nov. 20 with a torn ligament in his dislocated left shoulder, centered the third line between James van Riemsdyk and Arron Asham. Claude Giroux, who had been centering the third line, was moved to right wing on a unit with Richards and Gagne.
Gagne, another player who recently returned to the lineup after an injury, set up Richards for a power-play goal that gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. With former Flyer Steve Downie in the penalty box for cross-checking Powe, Gagne made a sharp pass to Richards, who was standing to the right of the goal. He one-timed it into the left corner for his 14th goal.
Early in the second period, the Flyers killed a pair of power plays, including a five-on-three advantage that lasted 32 seconds. But a short time later, Zenon Konopka tapped in a rebound of a Downie shot that trickled off the right post. That cut the Flyers' lead to 2-1 with 14:02 left in the middle period.
Goalie Michael Leighton, starting because of an injury to Brian Boucher, made a great save on Alex Tanguay as he redirected Vincent Lecavalier's cross-ice pass midway through the second period.
But Victor Hedman tied it at 2-2, firing a slap shot from the top of the left circle past Leighton with 7:58 remaining in the second.
Each team took turns dominating a period. The Flyers, their forecheck working, outshot the Lightning, 16-9, while building a 2-0 first-period lead. The Lightning, aided by three power plays, outshot the Flyers, 14-4, in the middle period and climbed into the 2-2 tie.
Breakaways. Jeff Carter played in his 250th consecutive game, tying him with Brian Propp for the fourth-longest streak in Flyers history. The longest: 484 by Rod Brind'Amour. . . . The Flyers played the first of six road games in 12 days. . . . Gagne on Flyers fans: "They're always there for us. We have to find a way to give something back to them." . . . Hundreds of orange-clad Flyers fans were at tonight's game.