Flyers even Eastern final with Lightning
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Keith Primeau isn't thinking about missing the World Cup of Hockey. He's doing his best to
get the Philadelphia Flyers into the Stanley Cup finals.
Primeau scored a short-handed goal and set up another score, leading the Flyers
past the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 Saturday to tie the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.
Left off Canada's roster announced Saturday for the World Cup, Primeau has
been perhaps the NHL's best player in the playoffs, scoring seven goals and adding four assists in 15 games.
``I didn't know until after the game,'' Primeau said of the omission. ``I
wasn't expecting to be nominated. I'm fine with it.''
Mark Recchi and John LeClair also scored for the Flyers, who improved to 7-1 at home this post-season.
Fredrik Modin and Vincent Lecavalier had goals for the Lightning, who lost for the first time in six road playoff
Game 5 is Tuesday in Tampa.
``At the end of the day, it's a loss and that's that,'' Lightning defenceman
Darryl Sydor said. ``We have to regroup for Game 5 at home. The next game is just huge.''
Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 19,872 that was decked in orange T-shirts
reading, ``Orange Crush,'' the Flyers scored two goals in a span of 1 minutes to erase a 1-0 deficit.
Robert Esche, coming off a poor outing in which he allowed two soft goals, stopped 28 shots,
helping the Flyers overcome seven power plays for the Lightning.
Lecavalier scored a power-play goal with 32.9 seconds left, but Primeau blocked
a pass and helped the Flyers control the puck the final 30 seconds.
``He's really taken charge of a lot of games,'' LeClair said of Primeau. ``He
was the difference out there every time he was on the ice.''
Primeau, the Flyers' captain, scored three goals to lead Philadelphia to a
7-2 victory over Toronto in Game 5, and he's been a dominant physical force throughout the post-season.
``There are certain stages of a critical playoff series when a captain has
to step up and he stepped up again,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Just 33 seconds after Vladimir Malakhov went to the penalty box for crosschecking, Primeau gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead
midway through the second period. Catching the puck in the Flyers' zone after Dave Andreychuk turned it over, Primeau put it down, broke in with Simon Gagne, forced defenceman Dan Boyle to slide toward Gagne and wristed a shot past Nikolai Khabibulin and just under the crossbar.
``The defenceman took a step toward Gags and I had no choice but to shoot
it,'' Primeau said.
Recchi had made it 2-1 with 1:40 left in the first period, deflecting a slap
shot by Mattias Timander off Khabibulin's glove and into the net.
Soon after the Flyers killed off consecutive penalties, LeClair tied it at
1-1 with his second goal in three games. Primeau set it up by picking up a loose puck along the left boards, skating in and
dropping a perfect pass for LeClair, who one-timed it past Khabibulin.
Modin opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the first period. Less
than a minute after Gagne received a double-minor for high-sticking, Modin put in a rebound off a slap shot by Pavel Kubina.
``We did the things we wanted to do, but we just didn't get the goals at the
right time,'' Andreychuk said.
Notes: The Flyers lost D Joni Pitkanen and F Jeremy Roenick to ``upper-body injuries,'' but Hitchcock said both are expected to play in
Game 5. Pitkanen was playing for Marcus Ragnarsson, who is out for the rest of the playoffs after breaking his left index finger
in Game 3. ... LeClair didn't score in Philadelphia's first 12 playoff games, before getting the first goal in a 6-2 victory
in Game 2. ... Tampa Bay has killed 19 of 20 penalties on the road. The Lightning are 6-for-24 on the power play away from
home. ... Philadelphia is 13-4 in series that were tied after four games. ... The Flyers didn't score on four power-play chances,
and are 1-for-20 with the man-advantage in the series after going 7-for-34 in the first two rounds.