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Flyers Struggles Against Lightning Continue

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay scored three times on the power play as the Flyers' struggles against the Lightning continued in a 6-3 Philadelphia loss at the St. Pete Times Forum on Friday night.

With the game tied 1-1 in the first period, consecutive penalties to Simon Gagne for delay of the game and Derian Hatcher for roughing, on what appeared to be nothing but a clean hit, cost Philadelphia a couple of goals when Tampa Bay went on a five-on-three for nearly a minute and a half.

Vinnie Prospal, who was on the receiving end of the call by referee Eric Furlatt on Hatcher, took a wrist shot that sailed over the shoulder of Robert Esche at 12:03. Ryan Craig got his second deflection goal at 12:50 just one second after the Hatcher penalty expired to make it 3-1.

"The difference was we had a great start to the game, and we played very well, and then they got their power plays and turned the momentum back their way," said Ken Hitchcock.

Hatcher was later tossed from the game in the first minute of the third period when he hit Brad Richards on what was determined to be a boarding major by Furlatt. Two Lightning players, including Pavel Kubina, then jumped Hatcher but Kubina was only handed a minor for roughing despite butt-ending the Flyers' captain.

"Kubina comes in and basically butt-ends me," said Hatcher. "I don't know how they got two minutes out of that."

"To me, there should be a suspension for that or a review of that," said Hitchcock. "He was within an eyelash of taking Hatch's eye out. That's a major concern. Hatch was defenseless. He was already tackled by one of their players, and he was defenseless. That's a really scary situation. There's no need for that at all."

With Peter Forsberg already in the box, Tampa Bay went on another extended power play including over a minute with a two-man advantage.

The Flyers killed off the two-man advantage as well as most of the major penalty on Hatcher, until Fredrik Modin ripped a slap shot from the slot with just five seconds left on the power play to make it 4-1.

Jeff Carter's power play goal at 6:50 of the third period made it a 4-2 game, and Niko Dimitrakos got credit for his first goal as a Flyer when a clearing attempt by goaltender John Grahame went off of his chest and in at 14:41 to bring Philadelphia within a goal.

Vincent LeCavalier, however, put the game away for Tampa Bay with 1:43 left when he got a step on defenseman Mike Rathje and swung around the net for a wraparound goal. An empty net tally by Richards capped the scoring.

"I thought we battled pretty hard and showed a lot of emotion that we wanted to win," said Forsberg. "Even though we came up a little short, I thought we battled back hard. It's tough when you get down in an early hole like that but we kept battling back."

"We had a tremendous effort tonight; a lot of people working hard and a lot of guys really battling. That's what is disappointing," added Hitchcock.

Michal Handzus made his return to the lineup after missing the last eight games with a shoulder injury, playing on the left wing with Petr Nedved and Branko Radivojevic.

Philadelphia opened the scoring when, on a two-on-one rush with Gagne, Forsberg took a shot himself. It was stopped by Grahame, but bounced off of Kubina and across the line for a shorthanded goal at 5:56 of the first period.

The Flyers put pressure on Grahame in the second, but the goaltender stood his ground turning away all 12 Philadelphia shots and it remained 3-1 after 40 minutes.

"We played well in the second period and could have scored three or four goals," said Hitchcock.

Philadelphia's four-game road trip comes to an end on Saturday night when the Flyers visit the Atlanta Thrashers (7:00 p.m., CSN). They return home on March 21 to host the New Jersey Devils.

Sami Kapanen missed the game with a sore right shoulder and is day-to-day. … Philadelphia has not won in Tampa Bay in the regular season since April 4, 2003, a span of eight games, all losses. … Forsberg's last shorthanded goal came on January 8, 2004 at Nashville. … Tampa Bay was 3-for-8 on the power play while the Flyers were 1-for-7.
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