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Flyers 4, Lightning 1 // LIGHTNING FLUNKS PHYSICAL

Henceforth, Game 5 of the Lightning's first Stanley Cup playoff series shall be remembered as Eric's Revenge.

Taking out four games of frustration Thursday, oversized Flyers scoring star Eric Lindros was a wrecking crew of one against the Lightning.

And he didn't even score.

Instead, Lindros guided Philadelphia to a 4-1 victory by dictating the tempo of a punishing, penalty-marred game at Core-States Spectrum with a dominating (and, at least once, dirty) physical presence.

"We have a lot of heart on this team," Lightning defenseman David Shaw said of a game that disintegrated into ugliness. "We don't like to go down easy, but you have to control your emotion and play disciplined hockey. We didn't do that."

Game 5 _ a 139-penalty-minute affair _ was Philadelphia's hardest-hitting effort yet in the first-round showdown between the Eastern Conference's top seed and the No. 8 Lightning.

"We've preached and preached discipline, but there comes a frustration point, and we reached that point," Lightning coach Terry Crisp said. "I'll say this, though: They (his Lightning players) are a team that sticks up for one another, and you've got to be proud of that."

The victory was Philadelphia's second in a row after two straight losses. Mikael Renberg, Shjon Podein, Pat Falloon and John LeClair scored for the Flyers, who took a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series that returns to Tampa Bay for Game 6 at the ThunderDome on Saturday night.

Lightning goalie Daren Puppa _ who missed Games 3 and 4 with back spasms from a sprain sustained in Game 2 _ did what he could to keep his club in it. But, with defenseman Roman Hamrlik at the team hotel with the flu and an ailing offense that was nowhere to be located, Tampa Bay did not stand a chance.

Crisp insisted his goal-scorers had to get back on track after a 4-1 loss in Game 4, and Tampa Bay did have chances. But except for a John Cullen goal with 2:01 remaining, Ron Hextall turned away everything the Lightning had to offer.

Throughout the first period, Lindros _ marked, battered, pounded, crunched, and otherwise assailed by the Lightning in each game leading up to Thursday _ dished out justice like a powerful lawman in a corrupt single-sheriff town.

"Eric has taken his hits. " Crisp said. "But he gave his back tonight."

"It was a tough, physical game," Lindros said. "Every day of the series has been like that."

"I don't know if they got physical because of Eric's big hits in the beginning. It could be the hits were big. It's a playoff series," Flyers coach Terry Murray said.

While the rest of the Flyers seemed content just to skate early on, Philadelphia's 6-foot-4, 239-pound Gargantua jolted and jarred virtually anyone who had a bolt on his uniform.

Lightning defenseman Igor Ulanov, who got in his best lick on Lindros with a hip check that knocked the big guy out for part of Game 2, was bounced into the boards with a clean-but-hard hit with 13:13 to go in the opening period.

Less than 30 seconds later, though, Lindros charged into the corner boards and delivered a high stick directly at Petit's face. No penalty was called, but blood gushed from the Lightning defenseman's nose and Petit did not return until four minutes into the middle period.

"The clearly shows it was a stick," Crisp said, "not a hit. (Petit) broke his nose, but he sucked it up and came back."

When Tampa Bay enforcer Rudy Poeschek responded to Lindros' dastardly deed with an intentional high stick to Dan Quinn's face, Shawn Burr (wrongly accused of Poeschek's crime) went to the penalty box and Renberg beat Puppa through the pads with a power-play goal that put the Flyers up 1-0 at 11:13 of the first.

Podein made it 2-0 just 1:50 into the second, beating Puppa on a breakaway, and Falloon added Philadelphia's third with a deke on Puppa from close range.

Puppa, spared the indignity of finishing, was pulled following the fourth goal. Jeff Reese, who started the previous two games, came in with 13:53 left to play.