Richards leads strong Flyers effort to topple Tampa

The Flyers returned from a two-week break strong, pummeling the Lightning 7-2, in Tampa Bay. Game recap — click here.

BY JAY BOEHMER, Staff Writer

Photo: Mike Carlson/ AP

There were a lot of questions coming into last night’s game at Tampa Bay. Less than 24 hours from the trade deadline, with more than two weeks without a game for most of the Flyers roster, barely a night’s rest for those coming back from Vancouver, and the announcement that goalie Ray Emery would be done for the season. How could a team possibly keep this all out of their minds, get down to business and win a hockey game?

It seems the Flyers knew how.

The Mike Richards-led line that has him centering Simon Gagne and Dan Carcillo led the charge despite a slow start, rife with turnovers. They overcame this, countering two Steve Stamkos goals with a tip-in by Mike Richards off a Dan Carcillo shot, and Carcillo putting home one of Richards’ for a goal of his own.

The second period ended with the score tied 2-2 and the Flyers on a power play. Mike Richards, who seems to have learned a thing or two playing with the immense talent on the Canadian Olympic roster, danced through several defenders before slyly moving the puck to Simon Gagne for one of the easiest goals of his career a mere 17 seconds into the third.

A pair of goals by Claude Giroux, as well as an assist on a blast by James van Riemsdyk, made the score 6-2 and forced Antero Niittymaki from goal in favor of Mike Smith. Smith’s first test of the game came on a Jeff Carter shorthanded breakaway that he easily buried to round out the scoring at 7-2.

Some questioned whether the rigorous Olympic schedule would leave players like Mike Richards feeling fatigued, and he clearly laid out his answer with his play on the night. Richards was seen pressuring the puck every chance he got, making crisp no-look passes, and pulling the puck around defenders at will, leading his team to an easy 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and further solidifying sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

Mike Richards: An obvious choice, it looks like the high level of competition at the Olympics has forced players like Richie to step up their game, and coming back to the NHL, he brought all of that with him and more. The Flyers captain had a goal and four assists on the night.

Dan Carcillo: Known more for his physical play more than his scoring touch, it’s always a surprise to see Dan Carcillo under the goal column. Last night he managed a goal, assist, and a fight to round out the Gordie Howe hat trick.

Simon Gagne: Gagne, who has been constantly battling injuries and his own scoring problems, scored a goal of his own and picked up two assists, hopefully marking the beginning of a hot streak.

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