Primeau time!

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:04 PM ET

 This rapidly is becoming the year of Keith Primeau.

 With each passing game, the Philadelphia Flyers captain becomes increasingly dominant, almost singlehandedly dragging his team toward the ultimate post-season success.

  Again yesterday, it was Primeau who took charge and led the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to even the Eastern Conference final at 2-2.

 Late in the first period, the Flyers were trailing 1-0 as the result of a power-play goal by Freddy Modin when Primeau shook off a couple of would-be checkers, drove to the middle of the ice and teed up a soft pass for John LeClair.

 LeClair blasted the puck past Nikolai Khabibulin from the deep slot and the Flyers were on their way.

 "I think that started out as a one-on-three," Modin said. "Then it became a one-on-two and somehow, they ended up scoring."

 With the Wachovia Center crowd still buzzing, Mark Recchi put the Flyers in front only 85 seconds later when he deflected Mattias Timander's point shot into the corner.

 But in the second period, with the Flyers under some pressure and the Lightning on a power play, it was once again Primeau who took over.

 Dave Andreychuk bobbled the puck at the point and Primeau pounced on it, then charged up ice on a two-on-one break with Simon Gagne.

 "I didn't think it was coming back that quickly," Andreychuk said. "It kind of caught me by surprise. I was going to one-time it, but I was in the wrong spot and he came out pretty hard. It bounced and I tried to take a whack at it but those things happen. Bounces happen."

 Using Gagne as a decoy, Primeau unleashed a wicked wrist shot into the upper corner to put the Flyers up 3-1.

 "I was going to get it to him," Primeau said of Gagne. "He's a goal scorer. I was trying to settle it down to make a pass but by the time I settled it down, I was over the blue line.

 "Their defencemen took a step towards Gags, so I shot it."

 The defenceman in question was Dan Boyle.

 "That was a huge goal," he said. "We were on the power play. They're tough to give up. I was the guy back there and I just figured I'd give him the shot.

 "He made an incredible shot to beat Khabby. There wasn't too much room there, but he found it."

 As it happened, that was the margin of victory. In the final minute, Vincent Lecavalier unleashed a screaming slapshot that beat Robert Esche from the blue line.

 But even then, Primeau's night was not finished.

 With more than 30 seconds left and the Lightning regrouping in front of Khabibulin in the hope of making a final desperate rush, Primeau blocked Boyle's attempted pass and sent it deep.

 Then Boyle tried it again. And Primeau blocked it again. The Lightning never again got out of its own end.

 "He's a good player," Boyle said. "He's playing hard every night. That's the way he has been playing in the whole series. We're aware of that and we're going to try to solve it.

 Try is the operative word.

 These days, Primeau simply refuses to be stopped.


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