GAME: Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference finals; tied 2-2.
TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EDT.
The Tampa Bay Lightning's road winning streak in the playoffs is over. That
doesn't mean they feel they've lost the advantage in the Eastern Conference
finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The top-seeded Lightning hope a return home can help them push the Flyers to
the brink of elimination when the teams meet in Game 5.
Tampa Bay finally lost away from the St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday, as
Philadelphia's home-ice advantage in this postseason was too much to overcome
for a second straight time. One game after ending the Flyers' six-game
postseason home winning streak, the Lightning fell to 5-1 on the road in the
playoffs with a 3-2 defeat at the Wachovia Center.
Flyers captain Keith Primeau had a short-handed goal and set up another
score as Philadelphia tied the series at two games apiece.
After the loss, though, Tampa Bay exhibited the calm demeanor and optimism
that has marked its surprising playoff run.
"We're relishing the moment. The guys talk about that all the time,"
captain Dave Andreychuk said. "We're having the time of our lives. There's no
need to panic."
A major source of that confidence has to come from the Lightning having
home-ice advantage in what is now a best-of-three series. As dominant as the
Flyers have been at home, they are just 3-4 on the road, away from the raucous
crowd from which they seem to draw energy.
"We're going back to home ice. We have to be a lot more desperate,"
Lightning forward Brad Richards said. "It will have to be the best game of our
Tampa Bay, 4-2 at home in the playoffs, got goals from Fredrik Modin and
Vincent Lecavalier on Saturday. The goal from Lecavalier pulled the Lightning
to within one at 19:27 of the third period, but Tampa Bay couldn't get the
Mark Recchi and John LeClair scored 1:25 apart late in the first period for
the Flyers, who also got a bounce-back performance from Robert Esche. Coming
off a poor outing in which he allowed two soft goals, the goaltender stopped 28
shots to help the Flyers overcome seven power plays for the Lightning. Tampa
Bay managed to score only twice with the man advantage.
For Philadelphia to overcome Tampa Bay's home-ice edge, it will likely need
a couple more dominant games from the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Primeau, who seems to
inspire the Flyers more than any other player.
"He has been a force throughout the postseason and there have been a couple
games where he has taken it to the next level," teammate Sami Kapanen said.
"I can't say enough about him."
Primeau has recorded seven goals and four assists in 15 playoff games. He's
also been a force defensively, setting the tone for the Flyers with his
"He has had a very good series," Lightning coach John Tortorella said in a
conference call. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Our mind-set
is we have to worry about our hockey club. Do we have to make small
adjustments? Sure, but our main focus is on our team."
Tortorella may have additional adjustments to make since the Flyers
announced that star forward Jeremy Roenick and defenseman Joni Pitkanen are
expected to play in Game 5. Both left Saturday's game with "upper-body"
Pitkanen's presence may be even more critical for Philadelphia than
Roenick's. The Flyers' defense has been so ravaged by injuries that coach Ken
Hitchcock has had to convert Kapanen from a forward to the Flyers' fifth
defenseman. Kapanen has come through with a solid performance for a team
missing Eric Desjardins and Marcus Ragnarsson from its blue line.
"That's what it's all about, a team game," said Flyers defenseman Vladimir
Malakhov, who spent more than 30 minutes on the ice in Game 4. "It has to be
all 20 guys."
The Flyers didn't score on four power-play chances Saturday, and are
1-for-20 with the man advantage in the series after going 7-for-34 in the first
Philadelphia is 13-4 in series that were tied after four games.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Flyers - 3rd seed; beat New Jersey Devils 4-1,
quarterfinals; beat Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2, semifinals. Lightning - 1st seed;
beat New York Islanders 4-1, quarterfinals; beat Montreal Canadiens 4-0,
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Primeau, 7 goals; Alexei Zhamnov, 9 assists
and 13 points; Donald Brashear, 59 PIM. Lightning - Lecavalier, 7 goals; Modin
and Martin St. Louis, 9 assists; Modin, 15 points; Chris Dingman, 39 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Flyers - Power play: 14.5 percent (8 for 55). Penalty
killing: 85.9 percent (55 for 64). Lightning - Power play: 15.3 percent (9 for
59). Penalty killing: 89.1 percent (41 for 46).
GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Esche (10-5, 1 SO, 2.22 GAA); Sean Burke (0-0, 1.50).
Lightning - Nikolai Khabibulin (10-3, 4, 1.44); John Grahame (0-0, 3.53).