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Flyers get flattened in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. - In-season breaks don't agree with the Flyers.

Kimmo Timonen is bumped off the puck by the Lightning's Steven Stamkos. (Chris O'Meara/AP)
Kimmo Timonen is bumped off the puck by the Lightning's Steven Stamkos. (Chris O'Meara/AP)Read more

TAMPA, Fla. - In-season breaks don't agree with the Flyers.

On Tuesday, playing their first game in seven nights because of the all-star break, the Flyers resumed their Unfinished Business Tour, and, well, looked as if they were still on vacation in the opening minutes.

Ex-Flyers Simon Gagne and Steve Downie played a role in all three of the Lighting's first-period goals en route to a 4-0 win at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Goalie Dwayne Roloson, 41, acquired from the Islanders for Ty Wishart on Jan. 1, looked like the second coming of Bernie Parent as he made 38 saves to key the victory. Rolson (8-3) notched his fourth shutout in 11 games with Tampa Bay.

"We had a lot of shots, but we have to do a better job of getting traffic in front of the goalie," defenseman Chris Pronger said.

Tampa Bay has won all three games against the Flyers this season. The Lightning, winners of six straight, moved to within two points of the first-place Flyers in the Eastern Conference.

The Lightning hope to surpass the Flyers during their 12-game homestand, which has nine games left.

After the morning skate, Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said the Flyers were a "measuring stick" for his team.

"Right now, I think they're the best team in the league and have no weaknesses whatsoever," he said. "When I look at their depth chart, it's pretty scary. They have three No. 1 center men, so basically they have three first lines."

But it was Tampa Bay that looked like a powerhouse as it scored two goals in the first 1 minute, 21 seconds and built a 3-0 first-period lead against goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

"It will be fun to see where we're at," Gagne said before he helped set up the first goal - scored by Teddy Purcell as he finished a two-on-one with captain Vincent Lecavalier after 19 seconds. Gagne also assisted on the second goal.

Just 1:21 into the game, Gagne's shot deflected off Purcell's shin to make it 2-0 after two shots. Gagne swatted the puck after it caromed off the back boards and past a Flyer out front.

"We had a tough start, but after that, I don't think we played bad," said defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who was with Tampa Bay last year. "We had almost 40 shots, but their goalie was on fire."

Before the game, Gagne said it was difficult to leave a Stanley Cup contender for a team that has not made the playoffs for the last three years.

That playoff drought is about to end. The Lightning have made major strides, and they improved their goaltending by dealing for Roloson last month.

Tampa Bay made it 3-0 when Downie scored from the slot with 5:36 left in the first period. Bobrovsky, who had his six-game winning streak snapped, appeared to be screened by teammate Mike Richards and Tampa Bay superstar Steven Stamkos.

Brian Boucher replaced Bobrovsky at the start of the second period, but Roloson continued to shine. Roloson made 14 stops in the second, including a kick save on a ticketed slot shot by Nik Zherdev with six minutes left.

Tampa Bay, which got a third-period goal from Stamkos (league-leading 39 goals), won in a rout despite being outshot, 38-22.

The Flyers were on a four-game winning streak last year before two-plus weeks off for the Olympic break stopped their momentum. When the schedule resumed, they won just six of their next 18 games.

They had an eight-day layoff after beating New Jersey in the conference quarterfinals last season, then lost three straight to Boston in the semifinals.

This season, after a week off for the Christmas break, the Flyers lost to Vancouver, 6-2, in their first game back. They lost two of their first three games after that break, then regrouped and won 10 of 12 heading into the all-star break.

Pronger didn't seem alarmed by the Lightning's 3-0 record against the Flyers.

"They sit back in a 1-4 trap and we have to understand we have to make good dumps - and get physical when we have a chance," he said.