UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ The Philadelphia Flyers can stop looking at the
scoreboard to check on the New Jersey Devils. The Stanley Cup champions are
coming to town for the first round of the playoffs.
Kim Johnsson scored 4:20 into the third period, lifting Philadelphia to a
3-3 tie Sunday with the New York Islanders that gave the Flyers the point they
needed to win the Atlantic Division.
That, coupled with New Jersey's 3-1 loss to Boston, earned the title for
Philadelphia and set up a meeting with the Devils.
``We know there's a lot more confidence in our team right now in playing the
New Jersey Devils than there was a year ago,'' Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock
The Flyers, who edged New Jersey 101 points to 100, will have home-ice
advantage against the Stanley Cup champions. There was no reaction on the
Philadelphia bench when the game reached overtime and the division was secured.
``This is a team that has been our nemesis for a long time. It's our turn to
take a whack at them,'' Hitchcock said.
Johnsson made it possible by ripping a shot past rookie goalie Wade
Dubielewicz from the blue line off a pass from Branko Radivojevic that Johnsson
Roman Hamrlik, Adrian Aucoin and Alexei Yashin scored power-play goals for
The Flyers were in good shape before their game started. As the national
anthem played, New Jersey fell behind 1-0. The lead grew to two before the
first puck was dropped.
``We knew the score in the Boston game, so we told each other to go out
there and play like it was Game 7,'' Johnsson said.
Dubielewicz was sharp, for the most part, in his first NHL start and second
appearance _ both against Philadelphia. He made 33 saves Sunday after stopping
14 shots in a win over the Flyers on March 25.
He was perfect that night after replacing injured starter Garth Snow after
the first period.
Keith Primeau was the first to score on the 20th shot against him at 7:33.
Dubielewicz's best stop came when he turned away John LeClair's breakaway
during a second-period power play.
Jeremy Roenick also scored for Philadelphia.
The game became insignificant for the Islanders on Saturday when they locked
up the No. 8 seed and a first-round playoff matchup with East champion Tampa
Bay. Because of that, defenseman Kenny Jonsson and regular goalie Rick DiPietro
were given the game off.
Robert Esche, who figured to be the Flyers' No. 1 goalie in the playoffs,
continued to struggle with long shots. He is 1-4-1 in his last six games,
allowing 16 goals.
A third-period drive from center ice jumped on him and caused some trouble
that he laughed off.
``There's a lot of things I'm sure don't look pretty, but I feel really
confident going into the playoffs,'' he said.
The next loss he suffers might be his starting job. Sean Burke was
impressive in his last start, a 2-0 victory Thursday at Montreal. Hitchcock
said he wouldn't name a starting goalie until Monday, but added he wasn't
bothered by Esche's play against the Islanders.
Hamrlik tied it 1-1 with a screened shot from the right point that struck
the post before ricocheting in off Esche's back.
Fellow defenseman Aucoin beat Esche from the other point 3:57 later during
New York's second power play. Aucoin rocketed a high shot that struck Primeau,
who dived in front of the drive, and went in off the crossbar at 14:21.
Esche had 23 saves.
Aucoin, who set career highs this season with 43 points and 30 assists, has
scored nine of his 13 goals in the past 10 games.
``When you're scoring and things go in, you just have to keep shooting,'' he
said. ``I've always been a streaky scorer.''
Dubielewicz handed Philadelphia the tying score in the closing seconds of
the first period, turning the Islanders' only unsuccessful power play of the
game into a short-handed goal.
Dubielewicz went out to get a puck in the right corner, but whiffed when he
tried to pass to Aucoin behind his net.
Roenick grabbed the puck and calmly skated to the empty net and deposited
his 19th goal, and first since returning four games ago from a concussion and
fractured jaw that kept him out of 19 contests.