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Senators awed by Roman grandeur

Posted: Friday, May 02, 2003

PHILADELPHIA Often criticized for his unconventional style, Roman Cechmanek again made all the saves in a crucial game.

Cechmanek stopped 28 shots and Michal Handzus scored the only goal as the Philadelphia Flyers evened their series with a 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.

Game 5 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals is Saturday in Ottawa.

It doesn't matter if it's a shutout or 5-4, it's the playoffs and we need to win,'' Cechmanek said.

After losing Game 1, Cechmanek was brilliant in a 33-save performance in a 2-0 road victory Sunday night. He stopped 24 shots, allowing an overtime goal on a shot he never saw in a 3-2 loss Tuesday night.

Cechmanek has stopped 131 of 135 shots in the five games following a loss during the playoffs.

He answered the bell again,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. Today, the roller coaster was on the start position. We'll see where it is Saturday.''

Faced with the possibility of going to Ottawa down 3-1, the Flyers didn't allow the Senators many scoring chances in Game 4. They clogged the neutral zone, and kept Ottawa out of the offensive zone, especially late in the game.

Cechmanek made a tumbling chest save on a shot by Magnus Arvedson that was headed toward an empty net with just over seven minutes left, and Philadelphia's defensive pressure shut down the Senators the rest of the way.

Cechmanek's best save of the first two periods came when he stopped Martin Havlat's point-blank backhander with his right pad early in the second.

He did it again,'' Flyers captain Keith Primeau said of Cechmanek. We expect that from him. Roman is in a groove and we have to ride that.''

Handzus gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 2:54 left in the first period, deflecting a shot by Chris Therien into the top left corner. It was Handzus' first playoff goal in 34 games.

Handzus won a faceoff and passed the puck back to Therien, who wristed a shot from just inside the blue line. With two defenders draped on him, Handzus got the blade of his stick on the puck, sending it over Patrick Lalime's shoulder.

They ran interference,'' Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. He was my point and I was unable to get out and it hit a stick. It was the kind of goal that is going to win this game.''

Lalime had 25 saves. He made a chest stop on a point-blank shot by Kim Johnsson minutes after stopping a one-timer from the slot by Jim Vandermeer midway through the second period.

Johnsson hit the post during a power-play a few minutes later.

It's the best-of-three now. The next game is the biggest one,'' Lalime said. Momentum is not important. A new game is new momentum.''

The Flyers didn't get a shot in their only power-play opportunity, and are 0-for-10 with the man advantage in this series.

Ottawa, which beat the New York Islanders in five games in the opening round, has never advanced past this round, losing twice before.

The Flyers lost to Ottawa in the first round last year, scoring a record-low two goals in five games. Philadelphia played the equivalent of nine games seven games and seven overtimes in its first-round victory over Toronto.

There's a price to pay to win,'' Hitchcock said. We're not going away. We had to elevate our game and we did.''



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