Richards, Betts Give Holiday Beating to Bolts 5-2

The Philadelphia Flyers desperately wanted a win heading into the Christmas break. They got it by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 last night.

Captain Mike Richards and unlikely scoring threat Blair Betts each netted two goals to help push the Flyers past Tampa Bay to stop their four-game losing streak. It didn’t look to promising when after the Flyers notched a 2-0 lead going into the second period when the Bolts struck back with two of their own.

However the Flyers buckled down and used grit and skill to fight back to get their fourth win in 18 games.

Michael Leighton who backed up Brian Boucher got his first start last night because of Boucher’s injured finger, stopped 31 shots in a solid game.

“Leights did a great job, in that he gave us a chance to win,” Laviolette said. “He was big in the net for me, he was in position and in control. He’s such a big guy, he blocked a lot of area.”

The players preached that they wanted to go into Christmas vacation with a big win to build on. A win that can build team character and confidence. Although it looked rough in the second period, the Flyers added grit to their game to push through.

“We wanted to go into Christmas with a win under our belt, and feeling a little better about ourselves,” Chris Pronger said. “And it was a step in the right direction. It wasn’t a giant step, with the lackluster second period. But a win nonetheless, and we’ll take it.”

Betts’ second goal proved to be the game winner at 10:01 in the third off a Oskars Bartulis snapshot. Richards’ second goal came later in the third with just under three minutes to go in the game when he roofed a shot over Mike Smith’s right shoulder. Simon Gagne would add an empty net goal to finish off the Lightning.

“It’s a minor step,” Laviolette said of the win. “But it’s a step, and we need that, and it’s really important. The guys worked for it tonight, especially in the third period.”

Coach Laviolette held a team meeting prior to last nights game telling the team to stop playing so tight and to start having fun playing the game of hockey. His team responded quite well.

“When you keep losing games, it’s hard to make jokes and have fun on the ice,” Gagne said before the game.

Richards played a game that he is certainly capable of playing night-in-night-out. He led by example and on the score sheet. The captain was everywhere he had to be.

“I thought Mike Richards played a terrific hockey game, really terrific on both ends of the ice,” said Laviolette.

The second period proved to be one that looked relative to the Flyers play of the past month. They gave up two goals and were outshot 14-4. They rebounded with three goals in the third to earn the win.

“It feels good to finally get a win, but we need to put four or five wins together here to get back above .500 and get a little more confidence,” Betts said.

The Flyers have to be careful about how they treat this win. They beat the Bruins last week then followed that with a few horrible games. Build on the key points of last nights win and then focus on what went wrong in the second. This team can build on this win and hopefully put together a streak of four or five wins in a row.

Quotes: CSNPhily/Flyers


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