By Dory LeBlanc
Tampa Bay welcomed back one of the most beloved players in history as Vinny Lecavalier returned to the house he helped build Wednesday night. Lecavalier, whose generous contributions to the Tampa Bay community remain the forefront of his legacy, was honored by the organization with whom he spent 14 seasons as the Community Hero as the Bolts defeated the Flyers 4-2.
The Lightning recognized Lecavalier twice in the first period; once with a video tribute of his highlights as a member of the Bolts and then again for his contributions off the ice with the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation and his commitment to children's pediatric cancer in the Tampa Bay area. In both instances, the 18, 427 in attendance was on their feet, cheering their former captain, while in true, classy Lecavalier form, he modestly waved from the Philadelphia bench.
Through the first 20 minutes, the scoreboard remained 0-0, but Tampa Bay led in shots 14-7, as starting netminder Anders Lindback made two outstanding saves on consecutive Wayne Simmonds shots. On the first, Simmonds raced down the ice after taking a dump pass, beating out Victor Hedman and fired one at Lindback, who was steadfast in his protection of the goal. However, on the play, Hedman was called for harrassing the Flyers' forward from behind, giving Simmonds a penalty shot opportunity, a backhander, which was also stopped by Lindback.
It took until 29:15 of the game before the Tesla coils would go off as Hedman tallied his fifth goal of the season on a wicked slapshot from the redline to put the Bolts up 1-0 and tie his career season-high goal mark. Three minutes and one second later, while Alex Killorn was in the penalty box for hooking, Hedman headed down the ice on a breakaway with Ondrej Palat tagging along. The defenseman took a shot on Philly goalie Ray Emery which was saved with a kick-out, but Palat was all alone to dump it in from Emery's gloveside, giving the Lightning three shorthanded goals on the season, and Hedman's second point of the night.
Leading 2-0 into the third period, Hedman picked up his second goal of the night and sixth of the season, notching a new season-high, as the Lightning were on a 5-on-3 opportunity after Scott Hartnell (slashing) and Nicklas Grossman (boarding) were both in the penalty box.
With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, the man of the night, Lecavalier saved a shutout with a shot from the point that ended Lindback's perfect 19-save performance. Less than 30 seconds later, Mark Streit made it interesting when he narrowed the lead to 3-2.
With 33.4 seconds left, Tyler Johnson sealed it for the Bolts with an empty-netter to put the Bolts up 4-2, the eventual final from the Forum.
Attendance: 18, 427
Shots On Goal:
PHI - 21
TB - 35
PHI - (1) Voracek - Hooking, (2) Hartnell - Fightning (maj), Coburn - High-sticking, (3) Hartnell - Slashing, Grossman - Boarding, Downie - Slashing, Downie - Charging, Simmonds - Misconduct (10 min)
TB - (1) Hedman - Hooking on breakaway (PS), (2) Brewer - Fighting (maj), Killorn - Hooking, (3) Aulie - Roughing, Hedman - Slashing, Crombeen - Roughing
Three Stars of the Game: TBA
1. Victor Hedman
2. Vincent Lecavalier (PHI)
3. Tyler Johnson
Next up for the Bolts: Tampa Bay will host the Pittsburgh Penguins, who sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 31 points on Friday, November 29th at 4:00pm. Tune in to 620 WDAE to hear Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and Dave Mishkin's call with coverage beginning at 3:30.