Friday, May 14, 2004

Lightning take 2-1 lead over Flyers

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - The Tampa Bay Lightning aren't bothered by a hostile crowd and an unfamiliar rink.

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 24 shots, helping the Lightning defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Thursday night and take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Cory Stillman, Ruslan Fedotenko, Vinny Lecavalier and Brad Richards scored for Tampa Bay, which improved to 5-0 on the road in the playoffs. Game 4 is Saturday in Philadelphia.

The Lightning quickly rebounded from a 6-2 loss in Game 2, scoring two goals in a span of 2:24 to take control in the first period.

Robert Esche, who had been superb in the playoffs, failed to catch one of the shots and let the other bounce off his glove.

After Keith Primeau's goal cut it to 2-1 and energized the sellout crowd in the opening minute of the third period, the Lightning scored 43 seconds later to silence the fans.

Tampa Bay has won six of seven against Philadelphia this season, including all four meetings in the regular season, and nine of 10 dating to last year.

Stillman gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead with a wrist shot from just outside the left circle that sailed under Esche's glove.

Fedotenko, a former Flyer, made it 2-0 less than three minutes later with a power-play goal. His slap shot hit Esche's glove and trickled into the net.

Primeau scored his sixth playoff goal just 36 seconds into the third period to cut the deficit to 2-1. But Lecavalier quickly answered with a breakaway goal.

Richards put the game away with a goal almost halfway through the third period.

After a physical game Monday in which the teams combined for 25 penalties, both teams controlled their emotions until a couple fights broke out with :04 remaining.

Tampa Bay202-4

First Period-1, Tampa Bay, Stillman 2 (Richards, Modin), 12:56. 2, Tampa Bay, Fedotenko 5 (Andreychuk, Sydor), 15:20 (pp).

Second Period-None.

Third Period-3, Philadelphia, Primeau 6 (Gagne, Malakhov), :36. 4, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 6 (St. Louis), 1:19. 5, Tampa Bay, Richards 6 (St. Louis, Roy), 8:20.

Shots on goal-Tampa Bay 11-8-7-26. Philadelphia 6-13-6-25.

Power-play Opportunities-Tampa Bay 1 of 4; Philadelphia 0 of 5.

Goalies-Tampa Bay, Khabibulin 10-2 (25 shots-24 saves). Philadelphia, Esche 9-5 (26-22).

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