1. Archive

Home streak ended

Vinny Prospal did not want to talk specifics.

What was the point, the Lightning forward said. He knew why Tampa Bay lost 3-2 Tuesday night to the Flyers at the St. Pete Times Forum, and it did not involve X's, O's or system breakdowns.

"We just didn't score enough goals to win the game," he said.

Simplicity at its finest. But the critique did not do justice to the good things Philadelphia did which contributed to the not-so-good things done by Tampa Bay.

Things like losing battles for position in front of the net and for the puck along the boards; failing repeatedly to clear the puck from the defensive zone which prevented tiring players from getting off the ice; and failing miserably on two critical third-period power plays.

Nor did it address that if not for the superb play of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who made 29 saves, the Flyers, as Tampa Bay left wing Dave Andreychuk said, would have "run us out of the building."

Still, the Lightning had a chance to get a point with a tie. Sheldon Keefe's second-period goal cut the deficit to one 86 seconds after John LeClair scored at 10:53 to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead.

But Tampa Bay could barely get into the offensive zone during its two third-period power plays. And though it outshot Philadelphia 8-4 in the period, it was overwhelmed 32-19 in the game.

It was the second-fewest shots mustered by the Lightning, which lost an eight-game streak of gaining points at home, where it fell for the first time in regulation (7-1-0-1).

The Flyers, who lead the Atlantic Division, stopped a five-game winless streak and a streak of three consecutive ties.

"That's probably the hardest-working hockey team we've played," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "Give them credit, that's a hell of a hockey club."

It's also a big, physical hockey club. The Lightning hoped to counter with its speed. The plan failed because Philadelphia was so dominant down low. The Lightning also tired on some shifts as the Flyers kept the puck in the offensive zone for extended periods.

"We negated a lot of things that Tampa has been able to do in this building," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We took the play away from them."

The Lightning got off to a promising start on Vinny Lecavalier's five-on-three power-play goal. It gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead 6:20 into the first and spoiled the bid of Roman Cechmanek to become the second goalie since the league expanded in 1967 (Dominik Hasek was the first) to shut out an opponent in four consecutive games.

Lecavalier's goal, his 10th, stopped Cechmanek's shutout streak at 191:20. He is 3-0-1 against Tampa Bay.

Philadelphia's Simon Gagne intercepted a clearing attempt by Lightning defenseman Cory Sarich and beat Khabibulin low and to the stick side at 8:39.

Jeremy Roenick gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead 4:15 into the second when he whacked in a rebound. LeClair made it 3-1 when he picked up a puck at the side of the Lightning net and banked it off Khabibulin.

The Flyers, which outshot the Lightning 17-7 in the second, were storming. The Lightning, Tortorella said, was "watching." A timeout calmed things, but Tampa Bay could do no better than hold its own. The ineffective power plays were particularly disappointing.

"You've got to give a little credit to Philly, and we simply don't have a quarterback that's doing the job," Tortorella said. "I shouldn't say it's just the quarterback."

And it wasn't just the Lightning.

"That's a well-coached hockey club," Tortorella said of the Flyers. "They play under a strict team concept and fill a lot of ice with their bodies."

And they scored one more goal.