Originally created 05/15/04

Lightning look to take 3-1 lead back to Tampa



PHILADELPHIA -- As bad as the Tampa Bay Lightning looked at home in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, that's how good they've been on the road.

The Lightning grabbed a 2-1 lead over Philadelphia in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night by improving to 5-0 away from home this postseason.

Tampa Bay showed no carry-over effect from its 6-2 loss on Monday, handing the Flyers their first loss in seven home playoff games in Game 3.

"We didn't come here for a split. We came here to win two games," captain Dave Andreychuk said Friday. "We've got one game already. We have to take the next game and that's the only thing we are worried about."

After having two days off between Games 2 and 3, the Lightning and Flyers will have just a day-and-a-half before playing again Saturday.

"I'm not one for morning skates," Flyers captain Keith Primeau said. "I like just preparing for an afternoon game. I find I have more energy, and I think most guys feel the same way."

Philadelphia will need an early jump in Game 4 to try to feed off the energy of the crowd that will be decked out in the home color for the second straight game of the new "Orange Crush."

A power-play goal would really help Philadelphia, 1-for-16 in this series and 2-for-31 over the past seven games.

The Flyers have scored first in 11 of 14 playoff games but are 0-3 when they trail 1-0. Philadelphia had outscored opponents 16-3 in the first period but that trend was quickly reversed when the Lightning connected twice 2:24 apart before Game 3 was 16 minutes old.

"Our first periods have been really good with the exception of (Thursday)," forward Jeremy Roenick said. "It's probably been the most positive thing about our playoffs. We've really come out and jumped on teams quickly.

"That can't change, especially in our own building."

The Lightning also took the juice out of the Flyers fans when Vincent Lecavalier took a perfect pass from Martin St. Louis and scored a breakaway goal that gave the Lightning a 3-1 lead just 43 seconds after Primeau brought Philadelphia within one.

"We went up 2-0, but I think they still came out and showed that they were ready to play," Lecavalier said. "We're expecting them to come out hard and we're going to play our game."

An ill-advised pinch at the right point by defenseman Danny Markov allowed St. Louis - the NHL regular-season scoring champion - to find a passing lane and get the puck to Lecavalier.

If only that was the worst thing to happen to a Philadelphia defenseman, the Flyers would be thrilled. Instead, the blue line corps is dealing with yet another major injury.

Marcus Ragnarsson had taken over the title as the Flyers' best defenseman after Eric Desjardins and Kim Johnsson were injured, but now he, like Desjardins, is out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Ragnarsson was struck on the finger during a follow-through of a shot by Tampa Bay's Fredrik Modin early in the first period Thursday. Ragnarsson's finger broke so badly that he needed an operation Friday to repair it.

"It's the same thing that has been going on all year. We'll have to get over it and get used to it," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Desjardins re-broke his right arm on the eve of the playoffs, and Johnsson missed three games of the second round against Toronto because of a broken hand.

The Flyers have been so thin on defense they have been using converted forward Sami Kapanen. Hitchcock said struggling rookie Joni Pitkanen, scratched the previous two games, will go back into the lineup in place of Ragnarsson.

"He's definitely a great defenseman and tough to play against," Lecavalier said of Ragnarsson. "We'll definitely take advantage of that."

Hitchcock is going to set up his defense pairings based on nationality, putting Russians Vladimir Malakhov and Markov together, Swedes Kim Johnsson and Mattias Timander in a pairing, and Pitkanen and Kapanen in a Finnish grouping.

All the reshuffling on defense might make things that much tougher for goalie Robert Esche, who had his first poor game of the playoffs. Cory Stillman beat him with a long, unobstructed wrist shot that went in off his glove. Former Flyers forward Ruslan Fedotenko made it 2-0 with a drive from the slot that also hit Esche's glove before finding the net.

"In the long run this will be good for Eschey," Hitchcock said. "This will be good for him to go through something like this. He knows he has to step up and play well."