GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning at Philadelphia Flyers.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference finals; Lightning lead 3-2.
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EDT.
Good things happen for the Tampa Bay Lightning when Brad Richards scores a
If Richards scores Thursday, the Lightning could be headed to the Stanley
Cup finals for the first time in franchise history.
Richards and the Lightning look to finish off the Philadelphia Flyers when
the teams meet in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Although Tampa Bay received outstanding performances from several players in
a 4-2 victory in Game 5 on Tuesday, none was better than the one from Richards,
who scored two power-play goals in the second period.
"The whole team really came out exceptionally hard and relentless in the
first period. We played with a lot more desperation and passion," Richards
said. "That got everybody going. It so happened I scored two goals, but it was
a big effort by everybody."
The Lightning are 6-0 in the playoffs when Richards scores a goal after
going 22-0-2 during the regular season.
"I can't really explain it," Richards said. "All I can say is I hope I
score in the next game."
After not scoring a goal in 11 playoff games last year, Richards has a
team-leading eight goals this postseason, including five game-winners, one shy
of the league record held by Joe Nieuwendyk and Joe Sakic.
Former Flyer Ruslan Fedotenko also scored on the power play and Tim Taylor
sealed the win with an empty-net goal, giving the Lightning a 3-2 lead in the
To avoid going back to Tampa Bay for Game 7 on Saturday, the Lightning will
have to win consecutive games - something neither team has done in this series.
They ended the Flyers' six-game home win streak in the playoffs with a 4-1
victory in Game 3, but Philadelphia rebounded with a 3-2 win in Game 4.
"We're going to go home and try to do our job, then Game 7 is up in the air
if we can bring it back here," Flyers forward Mark Recchi said. "You never
know when you get to Game 7. We have to at least give ourselves that
One of the biggest concerns for the Flyers heading into Game 6 is their
performance on special teams.
Besides allowing three power-play goals Tuesday, Philadelphia failed to
score on three opportunities with the man advantage and is 1-for-23 in this
series after going 7-for-34 in the first two rounds.
"They've got four power-play goals the past two games, so that's obviously
a concern," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "The difference in the game was
they won the special teams, and we couldn't convert on our scoring chances.
We've been tinkering with our power play during the whole playoffs, and we've
had a lot of no-brainers that haven't gone in."
Captain Keith Primeau clearly has been Philadelphia's best player in this
series, but needs more help from high-profile teammates Jeremy Roenick, Alexei
Zhamnov and Tony Amonte.
Roenick, Zhamnov and Amonte have combined for no goals and four assists in
this series after totaling 11 goals and 28 points in the first two rounds.
A loss in Game 6 would mean the Flyers will have been eliminated from the
playoffs at home in six of the past seven seasons.
"We stress all the time how resilient our group is and we'll dig deep
again," Primeau said. "We'll rally together and find a way. What makes our
team special is we're going to push until there's no more pushing."
Philadelphia, hampered by injuries throughout the postseason, lost left wing
Radovan Somik in the second period Tuesday with an undisclosed injury.
Defenseman Joni Pitkanen, inserted into the lineup for Game 4 in place of
Marcus Ragnarsson, did not play Tuesday due to a probable concussion. Dennis
Seidenberg took Pitkanen's place and made his first appearance since Jan. 10.
Lightning defenseman Brad Lukowich returned to the lineup Tuesday after
missing Games 3 and 4 with an upper body injury.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Lightning - 1st seed; beat New York Islanders 4-1,
quarterfinals; beat Montreal Canadiens 4-0, semifinals. Flyers - 3rd seed; beat
New Jersey Devils 4-1, quarterfinals; beat Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2, semifinals.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Richards, 8 goals; Martin St. Louis, 10
assists; Fredrik Modin and St. Louis, 15 points; Chris Dingman, 39 PIM. Flyers
- Primeau, 7 goals; Zhamnov, 9 assists and 13 points; Donald Brashear, 61 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Lightning - Power play: 19.0 percent (12 for 63).
Penalty killing: 89.8 percent (44 for 49). Flyers - Power play: 13.8 percent (8
for 58). Penalty killing: 82.4 percent (56 for 68).
GOALTENDERS: Lightning - Khabibulin (11-3, 4 SO, 1.49 GAA); John Grahame
(0-0, 3.53). Flyers - Robert Esche (10-6, 1, 2.28); Sean Burke (0-0, 1.50).