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Flyers down Lightning to snap losing streak

Esche makes 42 saves in career record despite persistent pain from recent surgery

Tampa Bay Lightning's Eric Perrin, left, battles with Philadelphia Flyers' Ryan Potulny, center, for a loose puck during the first period of an NHL ho...

Tampa Bay Lightning's Eric Perrin, left, battles with Philadelphia Flyers' Ryan Potulny, center, for a loose puck during the first period of an NHL ho...

They call them momentum saves in hockey - big saves that can turn around a game and even end a losing streak.
Robert Esche made a number of such saves Thursday night at the St. Pete Times Forum as the Flyers halted their franchise-record 10-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Esche made a career-high 42 saves, including 18 in the second period when the Flyers gained momentum off his work with two goals. He had not started a game since November 18 at San Jose as he recovered from surgery on his right groin.
"It wasn't that big a deal and it was a no-lose situation because we lost 10 in a row and there's no pressure on," Esche said.
"I know what kind of goalie I am. A battling goalie. I know how I have to play."
Esche said he was in pain for the entire game. "It was definitely sore," he said of his groin. " ... I battled through it. But I was seeing the puck well and didn't think about it much."
The victory also snapped the Flyers' 10-game losing streak against the Lightning since April 4, 2003.
"You want to win hockey games and we haven't beaten this team in a long time and I thought our start was great. ... We had energy," coach John Stevens said.
Esche had a 4-1 lead before Tampa Bay made it dicey in the third period with a pair of goals.
"They made it tight there, but I thought the work ethic and fight on the puck was terrific," Stevens said. "Peter Forsberg led the way there."
Forsberg had three points and Simon Gagne had his fifth two-goal game. The top line with Mike Knuble was plus-6.
"As a line, as a team, we played a good game," Forsberg said. "We have to be a plus line if this team is going to win. As a line, we worked and created chances all over the ice, battled hard down low."
The Flyers scored first on a power play on Alexei Zhitnik's first goal as a Flyer at 4 minutes, 1 second. Shortly after, Esche poke-checked the puck away from Vincent Lecavalier, who came streaking in off a dynamic feed from Martin St. Louis.
"He was confident; you could see it in his face and in his movement," Gagne said of Esche. "Every time he was facing a shot, he was confident to stop it, and even on the rebounds, too."
St. Louis tied the game at 10:06. The Flyers jumped ahead at 16:41 after a pass from Alexandre Picard up the middle of the ice to Forsberg. The play ended with Mike Knuble's give-and-go to Gagne.
Gagne notched his second goal at 9:30 of the second period. Pitkanen lasered a hard pass on net that Gagne converted for his 19th goal, making it 3-1.
"First time I heard music in here in a long time," Todd Fedoruk said in the locker room afterward. Fittingly, the boom box was blaring beside Esche's locker.
In other NHL action Thursday: Buffalo 4, Carolina 1; Detroit 7, Columbus 4; Los Angeles 7, Edmonton 4; Phoenix 3, San Jose 2.

Updated : 2021-06-23 14:44 GMT+08:00