Originally created 04/15/04

Khabibulin, Lightning blank Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Nikolai Khabibulin and the Tampa Bay Lightning have made themselves very comfortable in a building that was so unfriendly to visitors all season long.

Khabibulin made 33 saves for his second straight shutout at Nassau Coliseum and league scoring leader Martin St. Louis had a short-handed goal and an assist in a 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.

Ruslan Fedotenko and Fredrik Modin added goals, and Brad Richards had two assists for the Lightning, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, with each game ending up 3-0.

They can advance to the second round for the second straight year and second time ever with a home victory on Friday.

Should the Islanders win, Game 6 will be back on Long Island on Saturday night.

Khabibulin got his third shutout of the series. He's been unbeatable at Nassau Coliseum, where the Islanders won 25 home games - tops in the Eastern Conference.

But the Islanders, who won three of four regular-season games from the top-seeded Lightning, not only couldn't win at home, they couldn't score.

New York hasn't scored since Jason Blake sealed the Game 2 victory with an empty-net goal in the final minute.


In Ottawa, Marian Hossa and Ottawa had reason to celebrate after finally getting some pucks past Toronto's Ed Belfour.

Daniel Alfredsson scored late in the first period to end Ottawa's two-game scoreless streak, and Hossa got the go-ahead goal in the second, helping the Senators to a win.

The Senators tied the first-round playoff series at 2-all. Game 5 will be played Friday in Toronto.

Ottawa ended Belfour's shutout streak at 157:45 when Alfredsson scored with 35.6 seconds remaining in the first period, tying the game. Todd White and Chris Phillips added third-period goals for Ottawa.


In East Rutherford, N.J., Philadelphia goaltender Robert Esche stole Game 4 and pushed defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey to the brink of a first-round postseason exit.

Esche made 35 saves in recording his first career playoff shutout and defenseman Kim Johnsson atoned for a game-winning own goal two nights earlier, leading the Flyers to a win and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Alexei Zhamnov and Keith Primeau added third-period goals for the Flyers, who can end the Devils' hopes of winning a fourth championship since 1995 with a victory on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Game 6 would be played in New Jersey on Sunday, if necessary. A deciding game would be in Philadelphia on Tuesday, again, if necessary.


In Dallas, Rookie Marek Svatos scored from the center of the left faceoff circle 5:18 into double overtime, giving Colorado a victory over Dallas and a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.

Game 5 is Saturday in Denver, where the Avalanche cruised to the first two wins by scores of 3-1 and 5-2.

Milan Heyduk scored Colorado's first goal on a power play, and Joe Sakic followed soon after with a short-handed goal.


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