PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The Philadelphia Flyers lost a lot more than a game.
The Flyers, fighting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, lost goalie
Robert Esche to sprained left knee in their 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning
on Monday night.
Esche was hurt in a collision with teammate Simon Gagne in a scramble near
the Flyers' goal at 2:48 of the second period. Esche remained in the game for
the next 1:35 before being replaced by Neil Little, recalled from Philadelphia
of the AHL on Friday.
``It's sore,'' Esche said. ``My foot was on the goal post and Simon just
slid into me. I hurt it immediately.''
Esche, who stopped all 10 shots he faced, will have an MRI exam Tuesday to
determine the extent of the injury.
``It's a temporary injury,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``He will be
back. He's not out for the season.''
Tampa Bay's Pavel Kubina and Ruslan Fedotenko scored on the Lightning's
first two shots on Little.
``Right now we are playing confident hockey,'' Kubina said. ``Our special
teams are working. So is our power play and penalty killing. We showed it
Kubina scored on a power-play slap shot seven minutes into the second
period, and Fedotenko made it 2-1 at 8:42.
``Philly is one of the toughest teams to beat at home and now we have beaten
them twice in their building,'' Kubina said. ``It is fun right now for the
Michal Handzus scored for the Flyers, who had five-game unbeaten string
Handzus opened the scoring at 2:14 of the second period, lifting a loose
puck high over goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
``Nick needs to be a big part of this success as we go down the stretch,''
Lightning coach John Tortorella said, ``Tonight, he stood tall. He made some
big saves at key times.''