TAMPA, Fla. - Rookie Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored twice, and the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on Saturday night to clinch the Eastern Conference’s top seed through the playoffs.
The Lightning not only dropped the game in completing preliminary round-robin play with a 2-1 record, Tampa Bay’s star defenseman Victor Hedman did not return after appearing to twist his right ankle while going down untouched midway through the first period.
Coach Jon Cooper didn't have an update on Hedman's status or how much time he might miss, though acknowledged his potential loss would create a notable hole in the Lightning's lineup.
“It's a little frustrating because we feel like we're going in the right direction and to lose some of the star power we have,” said Cooper, noting the Lightning are also without captain Steven Stamkos and played Saturday minus Hedman's defensive partner Jan Rutta. “We’ve got to circle the wagons.”
Stamkos has been out since sustaining a lower body injury before the start of training camp last month. Cooper would only list Rutta as being unfit to play.
Joel Farabee had a goal and assist, Tyler Pitlick scored into an empty net with 1:20 left, and Carter Hart stopped 23 shots for the Flyers, who finished 3-0. Philadelphia didn’t allow more than one goal in also defeating Boston and Washington, and out-scored its opponents by a combined 11-3.
The Flyers, who entered round-robin play as the East’s fourth seed, move on to the first round next week and face the 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal upset Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games of their best-of-five preliminary round series. Philadelphia and Montreal have split their previous six playoff meetings, and the teams meet for the first time since the Flyers defeated the Canadiens in five games of the 2010 East finals.