PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The Tampa Bay Lightning not only bounced back from a
home drubbing, they borrowed a tactic on how to win on the road.
Cory Stillman and Ruslan Fedotenko scored 2:24 apart in the first period,
giving goalie Nikolai Khabibulin all the offense he needed in the Lightning's
4-1 victory Thursday night over the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Lightning, 5-0 this postseason on the road, lead the best-of-seven
Eastern Conference finals 2-1, with Game 4 in Philadelphia on Saturday.
``We came out the way we wanted to and got some big goals right off the
bat,'' Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis said.
That took a page right out of the Flyers' book. Philadelphia tied the series
Monday by winning 6-2 in Florida. The Flyers scored three goals in the first
period and then chased Khabibulin in the second.
``I think we just wanted to have a good game as a team and rebound from the
game. I think we did that,'' Khabibulin said.
Keith Primeau brought the Flyers within 2-1 just 36 seconds into the third
period. But an ill-advised pinch at the blue line by Philadelphia defenseman
Danny Markov allowed St. Louis to send Vincent Lecavalier in for a breakaway
goal 43 seconds later.
Brad Richards made it 4-1 at 8:20 of the third off another assist by St.
Louis, the regular-season scoring champion.
``It definitely didn't feel too good when you see Lecavalier breaking in
alone,'' Flyers forward Jeremy Roenick said. ``We have to continue to work hard
and get some scoring chances.''
Khabibulin reverted to his pre-Game 2 form, when he allowed 10 goals in 10
games and helped the Lightning go 9-1. On Thursday he made 24 saves, including
13 in the second period when the Flyers put on the pressure, but couldn't dig
out of their 2-0 hole.
Nothing seemed to go right for the Flyers, playing at home for the first
time since Game 5 of the second round against Toronto 11 days earlier. They had
been 6-0 in their building in these playoffs.
A big problem was the power play that went 0-for-5 and is in a 2-for-31
slump, dating to the third game of the Toronto series. Philadelphia scored six
power-play goals on 20 chances in the first seven games of the playoffs after
having the NHL's second-best unit in the regular season.
``Right now, they're pretty good to get in front of the goalie,'' forward
Simon Gagne said of the Lightning. ``I don't know how many shots we have on the
power play, but they all go on the side of the net.''
And the shots that were getting through were mostly kicked out by Khabibulin
or stopped by the goalposts.
But the Flyers got new life when the hard work that went unrewarded in the
second period paid off in the third. Primeau's sixth goal of the playoffs got
through the ``Bulin Wall'' and lifted the orange-clad crowd from the seats.
Markov, sensing that the Lightning might be crumbling, crept in from the
right point on St. Louis, who was against the half-boards. St. Louis split two
Flyers defenders with a perfect pass to Lecavalier, who streaked in and beat
``It was definitely very important,'' Lecavalier said. ``They came out in
the third and got a goal. They were all over us, they were hitting us and
playing our zone.''
So now the goalie focus has turned from Khabibulin to Esche, who probably
had his worst game in these playoffs. The Lightning said they never lost
confidence in their goalie, who rebounded in a terrific way.
Esche will have to do the same if the Flyers are going to be back even when
the series shifts to Tampa for Game 5.
Each of the first two goals he allowed Thursday ricocheted off his glove and
into the net. Stillman's was a semi-breakaway after Richards found him with a
pass that was nearly offside.
A fluttering wrist shot from the right circle found its way in.
``There's no disguising it, it was a bad goal,'' Esche said. ``When you give
up a goal like that early in a hockey game, it kind of takes the wind out of
``It's just something I have to be prepared for the next game.''