Some quick observations from the Flyers' 5-3 win in Tampa on Friday night:
At last …
… The Flyers got a road win! The Flyers got a road win! The Flyers got a road win!
OK, the enigmatic Flyers have been a pretty good team away from the Wells Fargo Center this season, but they have struggled mightily in road games right after their Christmas break in recent seasons.
They put together a solid 60-minute effort Friday, however, and outlasted host Tampa Bay in one of their best performances of the season.
The Flyers had lost 12 straight (0-10-2) during road trips that immediately followed their Christmas break over the last four years.
Leave it to them to end the streak against the NHL's best team, a team that had won eight straight at Amalie Arena and took the league's top home record (16-2-1) into the game.
Defenseman Brandon Manning, who missed the previous 10 games because of a hand injury, scored on a wraparound — a play usually made by a forward — to give the Flyers a 4-2 cushion early in the third. The goal was scored shortly after Brian Elliott stopped Nikita Kucherov on a point-blank, game-tying attempt down the other end.
Elliott, who played well, made his 13th straight start and must be on fumes.
Manning's goal was set up by Claude Giroux, who had three assists and now leads the Flyers with 46 points. Pending the results of other games Friday, he and Jake Voracek had climbed to No. 5 in the NHL.
As a side note, second-year winger Travis Konecny picked up a pair of assists while playing on the top line for the fourth straight game. A confidence-builder, for sure.
A turnover by second-year defenseman Ivan Provorov led to a goal by the Lightning's Brayden Point goal, tying the game at 2-2 with 4:23 left in the second. Point finished a slick odd-man rush that followed the neutral-zone miscue.
While the Flyers were on a third-period power play, Provorov had some bad luck. He broke his stick and Tyler Johnson took advantage and scored a shorthanded goal to get the Lightning within 4-3 with 11:02 remaining.
Shayne Gostisbehere is quietly having an outstanding offensive season. He entered the night second among NHL defensemen in scoring, and he gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 9:57 left in the second.
The players they call "Ghost," took a deft tap pass from Wayne Simmonds in front and scored the Flyers second power-play goal in a 3:07 span. It was Gostisbehere's eighth goal and it gave him 29 points in 35 games.
Gostisbehere and Giroux are showing what they can do when healthy.
The Flyers had a territorial edge in the first five-plus minutes of the second and it led to a power-play opportunity, thanks to a hooking penalty on Braydon Coburn, who spent seven-plus seasons in Philadelphia.
This time, the Flyers capitalized. Sean Couturier made a brilliant backhand pass to Wayne Simmonds, who scored on the doorstep to tie the game at 1-1 with 13:04 left in the second.
The Flyers had been 0 for 9 on the power play in the last three games before Simmonds' notched his 12th goal of the season.
Besides Couturier, Voracek helped set up the goal. (Voracek now has 38 assists, tops in the NHL). Couturier later added his 18th goal (each goal is a new career high) and another assist. He has 36 points in 38 games — two more points than he had in 66 games last season.
Better start, but…
… Elliott said the Flyers needed "more jump" Friday than they displayed in Thursday's 3-2 loss in Florida. They listened. They came out with more aggressiveness and had more first-period attack time than the previous night.
But they still fell behind. Again.
After a questionable tripping penalty on Voracek, the Lightning needed just 19 seconds to show why they have the league's best power play.
Kucherov made a slick feed to Steven Stamkos, whose one-time laser from the left circle beat Elliott with 12:33 left in the first. (The Flyers tried using Giroux and Couturier as the forwards on the penalty kill.)
It marked the seventh time in the last eight games that the Flyers had allowed the first goal.
The Flyers had a 9-7 shots edge in the first but couldn't solve backup goalie Peter Budaj, who entered the game with a 3.68 goals-against average and .878 save percentage.
To their credit, the Flyers continued to swarm the net and, eventually, it paid off.