Flyin' high again

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:18 PM ET


 The Philadelphia Flyers exorcised a few demons last night. And sent them over to roost with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

 All the concerns about the Flyers having lost five in a row to the Lightning, about Tampa netminder Nikolai Khabibulin being unbeatable, about John LeClair not scoring, about Tampa's speed being too much for the Flyers, and any other concern you might care to name, all went out the window.

 The Flyers not only got the road win they had to have if they are to win the Eastern Conference final, they did it in convincing fashion with a 6-2 drubbing of the Lightning.

 "We didn't let any demons of the past bother us," Flyers forward Jeremy Roenick said. "We just came in here and played a good game."

 The Flyers never had any real doubts about their ability.

 "We didn't have to prove anything to ourselves," Roenick said. "We're a powerful hockey team and we know it. It's just a matter of getting up to a level."

 The Flyers definitely got up to that level -- a much higher level than anything the Lightning could reach on this night.

 They solved Khabibulin less than two minutes into the game when LeClair scored his first goal of the playoffs.

 They used a power-play goal and a short-handed goal to push the lead to 3-0 by the end of the first period.

 KHABIBULIN OUT

 They knocked Khabibulin out of the game with Vladimir Malakhov's point shot six minutes into the second period.

 They added two more against John Grahame before taking things easy and allowing a couple of late meaningless goals.

 "We played 45 minutes, probably, of good hockey," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We got a little sloppy there in the third.

 "But it's a step in the right direction. We deserved the win based on our performance and our team should feel really good about itself.

 "We should feel really good about the fact that we made some adjustments and we needed to make them and we got the win because of it."

 The Flyers did exactly what Hitchcock had asked them to do. They shattered the Lightning's eight-game winning streak -- and the confidence that goes with such an achievement -- and planted some doubt in Tampa's minds.

 After a performance like that, it is now the Lightning who have to regroup and rebound from a one-sided loss. Furthermore, they must now win a game in Philadelphia, where the Flyers are unbeaten this post-season.

 Tampa coach John Tortorella shrugged off that aspect.

 "We weren't involved," he said. "Our team wasn't there. It was some other team. We are not concerned about their record."

 Last night, the Flyers got exactly the start they wanted and kept rolling.

 LeClair got to Khabibulin early, which is often the key to having success against him, and broke his own slump in the process.

 SHOOT QUICKLY

 "I got a loose puck," LeClair said, "and I had some room going in. I saw his legs open and decided to shoot quickly before he had a chance to react. The further you go, the less of an angle you get."

 The puck zipped through the five-hole and the Flyers were on their way.

 Six minutes later, Mark Recchi deflected Marcus Ragnarsson's point shot past Khabibulin.

 Before another three minutes had passed, Sami Kapanen broke down the right side killing a penalty and snapped a shot over Khabibulin's glove to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead.

 After that, the Flyers got a couple more and so did the Lightning. But it didn't really matter. The damage had been done. The Flyers did what had to be done.

 Now it's up to the Lightning to crank it up a notch.


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