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.

SENATORS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 1

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.

FLYERS 3, DEVILS 0

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.

AVALANCHE 3, STARS 2 (2 OT)

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.