Lightning Takes Charge
Flyers Stopped By Khabibulin; Sharks Win First
Friday, May 14, 2004; Page D03
Even Philadelphia's notoriously hostile crowd didn't bother the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 24 shots, helping the Lightning defeat the host Flyers, 4-1, last night and take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Cory Stillman, Ruslan Fedotenko, Vincent 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 minutes 24 seconds 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 season, including all four meetings in the regular season, and nine of 10, dating from 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.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company