Archive for Friday, May 14, 2004

Tampa Bay extends streak, halts Philly sizz

Lightning improve to 5-0 on road with 4-1 win; Flyers lose first home game

May 14, 2004

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— Even Philadelphia's notoriously hostile crowd didn't bother the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 24 shots, helping the Lightning defeat the 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. The Flyers were 6-0 at home this postseason.

"This building is tough to play in. The fans are always yelling at you," Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said. "But we keep it simple on the road. We don't try to put on a show. We just battle and try to limit the mistakes."

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.

The Flyers dominated the second period, but couldn't break through the "Bulin Wall" as Khabibulin made 13 saves.

"Some shots I didn't see, but guys stepped up and blocked them and they cleared a few rebounds," Khabibulin said. "That makes life a lot easier for a goalie."

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 Lightning players celebrate a goal by Brad Richards in
the third period as Philadelphia goalie Robert Esche skates away.
The Lightning won Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, 4-1,
Thursday in Philadelphia to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Tampa Bay Lightning players celebrate a goal by Brad Richards in the third period as Philadelphia goalie Robert Esche skates away. The Lightning won Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, 4-1, Thursday in Philadelphia to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

"That goal took the air out of us and the building," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Tampa Bay has won six of seven against Philadelphia this year, 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.

Richards put the game away with his sixth playoff goal almost halfway through the third period.

Sharks 3, Flames 0

Calgary, Alberta -- Evgeni Nabokov finally got a victory over his former backup. He also got the San Jose Sharks back in the Western Conference finals.

Nabokov made 34 saves for his third shutout of the playoffs, and Alex Korolyuk had two goals and an assist.

Korolyuk scored twice in the final two minutes, capping his promotion to the Sharks' top line. Vincent Damphousse got the first goal for the Sharks, who closed their series deficit to 2-1 with an appropriate mix of desperation and motivation.

After blowing home-ice advantage with consecutive losses at the Shark Tank, the Sharks knew the series essentially would be over with a loss in Game 3. So coach Ron Wilson shook up his lineup, Damphousse scored another timely goal, Korolyuk played a fantastic forechecking game -- and Nabokov returned to top form.

Miikka Kiprusoff made 21 saves for the Flames, who were shut out for the first time in the playoffs. Despite the backing of a raucous crowd of red-clad fans at the Saddledome, Calgary dropped to 3-4 at home in the postseason.

Game 4 is Sunday in Calgary, and Game 5 is Monday night in San Jose.

Nabokov rebounded impressively from the soft goals he allowed in a 4-1 loss in Game 2. Despite a few hair-raising rebounds, he didn't allow any of the Flames' 14 third-period shots to get past him, during the fourth playoff shutout of his career.

The Sharks took their first lead of the series midway through the second period when defenseman Rob Davison led a rush. Korolyuk eventually found Damphousse, who flung a backhander past Kiprusoff for his sixth goal of the playoffs.

Nabokov and the Sharks' defense stayed mostly in control until Korolyuk slipped behind Calgary's defense during four-on-four play, easily scoring his fourth goal of the playoffs.

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