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Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Philadelphia Flyers 1 FINAL @NHL

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 tonight.''

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 whole team.''

Michal Handzus scored for the Flyers, who had five-game unbeaten string snapped.

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.''

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