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Lightning strike in Philly

Road win gives Tampa Bay 2-1 series lead

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2004

PHILADELPHIA 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.

''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.

''There's no disguising it, it was a bad goal,'' Esche said.

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 in half. But Lecavalier quickly answered with a breakaway goal.

''You want to get life from a goal, but they turn around and score right away and that makes it tough,'' Flyers forward Mark Recchi said.

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 after blowing home-ice advantage with consecutive losses at the Shark Tank.

Mikka 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, with Game 5 in San Jose on Monday night.



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