TAMPA, Fla. - The new year is almost here, but the Flyers already are making good on their resolution: Get consecutive victories.
Goalie Martin Biron's heroics and a three-point game from Joffrey Lupul helped the Flyers harness the Lightning, 4-2, yesterday at the St. Pete Times Forum.
With Thursday's win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Flyers won consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 10-12, against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders.
"A lot of it has to do with being a young team," Lupul said about the club's inability to win back-to-back games. "Sometimes you get caught up thinking we're too good a team. We have to get a mind-set to play hard and consistent every night to win."
Biron made 31 saves - 23 through 40 minutes - and kept the Flyers in the game early.
"We didn't execute our game plan very well," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "Second period, we got into some trouble there. They pressured hard on the walls. . . . But as the game wore on, we got some odd-man rushes."
The Flyers were up by 2-1 when Scott Hartnell tipped in a shot 31 seconds into the final period on a delayed penalty. It gave the Flyers a huge momentum swing, as three minutes later, Kimmo Timonen scored off a rebound on rookie goalie Karri Ramo to ice the game and send Tampa Bay to its ninth loss in 11 games.
The Flyers are 16-1-0 when leading after two periods, and this was just their second victory in the last 13 meetings with the Lightning.
Lupul gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead 7 minutes, 13 seconds into the game on a penalty shot. It was his 16th goal this season - tying last season's total in Edmonton - and his 10th goal in the last nine games.
"I was going down the wing pretty much as fast as I could, and [Mike Richards] made a good pass to me," said Lupul, who drew a hook and a penalty shot from Tampa Bay's Brad Lukowich.
On the penalty shot, Lupul wristed the puck off Ramo's inside pad and into the five hole.
"I'm more of a shooter than a deker, so I am coming in looking shot first," Lupul said. "I thought I saw him backing up, and with just a quick little release I was able to get it through the five hole."
The goal snapped an 0 for 8 penalty-shot drought for the Flyers, who have scored 13 times in 38 chances overall. Simon Gagne had scored the last one Feb. 21, 2004, against Atlanta's Pasi Nurminen.
Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier, who is having an MVP-caliber first half of the season, tied the score with his 26th goal at 11:44 on the power play.
The Flyers played sloppily in front of Biron in the first period, committing 10 turnovers while getting trapped in their own end for long stretches, and Biron faced 14 shots. Chaos persisted in the second period as the Lightning forechecked with ferocity.
Mike Knuble scored his 11th goal of the season through sheer determination on the power play late in the second period. Jeff Carter angled the puck from the left circle to Lupul in the slot. Everyone converged into the crease, where Knuble jabbed at the puck three times before it went at 19:04 for a 2-1 Flyers lead.
"It was kind of a bang-bang play," said Knuble, who has nine power-play goals this season.
Loose pucks. An MRI on Randy Jones' right knee was negative, Stevens said, so his mild sprain won't require arthroscopic surgery. . . . Antero Niittymaki will start in goal today.