TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Dave Andreychuk was as happy for his teammates as he was
The Tampa Bay captain is finally headed to the Stanley Cup finals in his
22nd NHL season, and the rest of the Lightning are making their first trip,
``Obviously you dream about this day and for it to happen, and you don't
know how you're going to feel,'' the 40-year-old Andreychuk said Saturday
night. ``I don't really feel relief. I feel excitement more than anything
The Lightning beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern
Conference finals, sending Tampa Bay into the Cup finals against the Calgary
Flames, who won the Western Conference title in six games over San Jose.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Tampa.
``I feel excitement for what's happened to our club, the improvements we've
made in the last three years, and everybody in that locker room should be
pretty proud of the situation we're in,'' Andreychuk said.
``Our job is not done yet. We feel that this is another step. We have to be
focused. Obviously, we can enjoy this tonight, but then we've got to get back
Andreychuk has played more regular season games (1,597) than any other
active player without appearing in the Cup finals. Two other teams he played on
_ Toronto in 1993 and Colorado in 2000 _ lost Game 7 of the conference finals.
``It's great to finally see him get a chance at the Cup,'' said forward
Fredrik Modin, who scored one of Tampa Bay's goals. ``But at the same time, we
are all pretty excited for ourselves, too.''
Ruslan Fedotenko also scored for Tampa Bay, and Nikolai Khabibulin stopped
22 shots as the Lightning rebounded from a disappointing loss in Game 6.
The Flyers were denied their first trip to the finals since 1997, but didn't
go down without a fight after rallying to tie Game 6 late in regulation and
winning it in overtime. Keith Primeau and Simon Gagne saved Philadelphia's
season on Thursday, and goalie Robert Esche kept Game 7 from getting out of
``Right now, I'm just disappointed for the players,'' Philadelphia coach Ken
Hitchcock said. ``Back in January and February we weren't a very good hockey
club against Tampa, and now we got to this stage.''
Fedotenko's deflection on the power play gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead late
in the first period. Modin scored 4:57 into the second to make it 2-0 and whip
a sellout crowd of 22,117 for Tampa Bay's first Game 7 into a frenzy.
Kim Johnsson's goal trimmed Philadelphia deficit to 2-1 midway through the
second, and Esche stopped 17 shots in the period to keep the Flyers in the
Neither team managed to win two straight in the series, just the 11th
matchup in NHL history to go to Game 7 with the teams alternating victories in
the first six.
Tampa Bay won Games 1, 3 and 5 to take a 3-2 lead into Game 6 in
Philadelphia and was on the verge of making the Cup finals in just their third
playoff appearance when Primeau and Gagne saved the Flyers.
The Lightning were less than two minutes from putting the series away when
Philadelphia's persistence paid off. Primeau scored with 1:49 remaining in the
third period to force overtime, and Gagne's goal 18:18 into the extra session
extended the series.
Tampa Bay faulted itself for allowing Philadelphia to dictate the tempo in
the third period and overtime of the sixth game and vowed to not let it happen
Although the Flyers dominated much of the opening period, they were 0-of-2
on the power play. Philadelphia fell behind 1-0 when Fedotenko scored on Tampa
Bay's first chance with a man advantage.
The goal, with 3:14 left in the period, came with Primeau in the penalty box
for high-sticking. Brad Richards' slap shot from the right point hit Martin St.
Louis and deflected off Fedotenko's stick past Esche, who was screened.
But unlike Game 6, when they sat on a one-goal lead, the Lightning continued
to play aggressively.
Jassen Cullimore, who returned after missing 12 games in the postseason with
a wrist injury, dug the puck out from the side of the net and tapped it through
the crease to Modin. His seventh goal of the playoffs made it 2-0 less than
five minutes into the second period.
Philadelphia answered with Johnsson's goal with 9:44 left in the second, and
the Flyers nearly tied it three minutes later. But Khabibulin stoned Primeau on
a breakaway and it remained 2-1 the rest of the way.
Esche finished with 30 saves. Khabibulin had seven stops in the third
period, the last coming with less than 10 seconds remaining.
``We just feel like we have enough talented guys and enough older guys that
someone's going to find a way to get one in,'' Primeau said. ``We've been
resilient that way, but tonight we didn't get it done.''