Tampa Bay at Philadelphia

Gagne makes emotional return to Philly; Lightning win


PHILADELPHIA -- Simon Gagne knew it was coming, but that didn't stop the tears.

The former Philadelphia star had an emotional return to the city where he began his career, helping the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Flyers 3-2 on Thursday.

"The first 20 minutes were really hard," Gagne said. "I was tearing up."

Steven Stamkos, Dominic Moore and Paval Kubina scored to lead Tampa Bay to a 3-0 start and hand the Flyers their first loss. The Lightning were coming off 4-3 overtime victory in Montreal on Wednesday night.

Nikolay Zherdev and Danny Briere scored for Philadelphia.

Gagne, a hero last season in the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup finals, spent the first 10 seasons of his career with Philadelphia before being dealt to the Lightning during the summer to clear salary cap space.

Fans cheered within the first minute of the game, when Gagne stepped on the ice for his first shift. The popular left winger received a louder ovation with 13:40 left in the first, when the Flyers showed a video montage of highlights during a timeout. Gagne waved to the crowd from the bench, then did a half-circle on the ice while joining his new teammates for the faceoff.

"I was up for the faceoff, anyway, so I thought it was a good time to do it," Gagne said. "I wanted to cry. I had to stop watching [the video] a couple of times. A lot of emotion. Everything started here. They showed my first goal and all the big goals. It's still hard to think about. They're always going to be in my heart. That's something I'll always remember."

Stamkos beat Flyers goalie Brian Boucher's stick side nearly five minutes into the game, on a feed from Steve Downie after the puck bounced off the board. It was Stamkos' fourth goal in three games.

Zherdev, one of the players signed with the money saved from shedding Gagne's $5.25 million salary, tied it a little more than two minutes later off an assist from James van Riemsdyk.

Tampa Bay made it 2-1 in the second period when Moore backhanded a rebound through Boucher. Kubina scored early in the third on what turned out to be the deciding goal. His shot from the point passed through Dan Carcillo and Kimmo Timonen untouched, and slipped between Boucher's pads.

"I thought I picked it up," said Boucher, who stopped 21 shots. "It hit my pads pretty hard and I was shocked to see that it went in. I thought I had good positioning, I felt my butterfly was good enough, it just happened to squeak through."

Philadelphia pulled within a goal midway through the period, when Briere wristed a shot past Dan Ellis, who had 24 saves for Tampa Bay.

Gagne has had three emotional games with Tampa. On Oct. 9, he played his first game for his new team, then followed that up by playing in his home province against the Canadiens.

And now Philadelphia.

"I raise my hat to him," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "I might have been crying when I saw that video."

Gagne did.

"You don't really realize how important you come back and get a reaction like that," he said. "If you play for the Flyers your whole career, you might not have a chance to have an ovation like that. You realize you were a big part of their life for 10 years, and that's really touching. They're always going to be in my heart. It's always going to be a special place for me."


  • Gagne, a first-round pick in the 1998 draft, played 664 games for the Flyers. He scored 259 goals, including two 40-goal seasons. He hasn't recorded a point in his first three games with Tampa Bay.
  • Zherdev's goal tonight was his 100th career NHL goal.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Flyers fans do not forget the 10 years Simon Gagne spent in Philly. Gagne does not have any points in the game. (Getty Images)
Flyers fans do not forget the 10 years Simon Gagne spent in Philly. Gagne does not have any points in the game. (Getty Images)
Tampa Bay  (2-0-0) «1113
Philadelphia (2-1-1)1012
Three Stars
S. Gagne

Goals: 0
Assist(s): 0
D. Briere

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
S. Downie

Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2

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Scoring Summary
15:11 - Steven Stamkos (4), Snap Shot. Assist: Downie, St. Louis
17:03 - Nikolay Zherdev (1), Tip-In. Assist: van Riemsdyk, Giroux
14:49 - Dominic Moore (2), Backhand Shot. Assist: Hall, Clark
01:27 - Pavel Kubina (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Downie, St. Louis
09:59 - Danny Briere (3), Wrist Shot. Assist: Leino, Carle
Penalty Summary
01:45Downie, 2 min, Tripping
02:32Bergenheim, 2 min, Hooking
01:07Coburn, 2 min, Hooking
02:41Pronger, 2 min, Holding
03:59O'Donnell, 5 min, Fighting
03:59Downie, 5 min, Fighting
04:49Hedman, 2 min, Holding
07:10Coburn, 2 min, Interference
10:40Hedman, 2 min, Cross-Checking
16:31Richards, 2 min, Hooking
10:33van Riemsdyk, 2 min, Hooking
14:41Carle, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
Shots On Goal
Dan Ellis59:55242
Brian Boucher58:28213
Game Information
Attendance - 19592
Referees - David Banfield, Kevin Pollock
Linesmen - Pierre Racicot, Mark Shewchyk
Other Games
Car 2 Final
Ott 3
StL 3 Final
Nash 4
Edm 2 Final
Min 4
Det 1 Final
Dal 4
Fla 3 Final
Cal 0