Flyers fail to score on five power plays

Updated: May 14, 2004, 7:57 AM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- The "Orange Crush" made its debut Thursday night in the Eastern Conference finals. Unfortunately for the Philadelphia Flyers, a power play that isn't working was also on display.

Playing in front of an orange-clad crowd, the Flyers failed on all five man-advantage chances in a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3.

Philadelphia fell to 6-1 at home in these playoffs and trails the best-of-seven series 2-1.

Pavel Kubina gave the Flyers plenty of chances to work on a power-play unit that converted 21.7 percent of the time in the regular season -- the second-best mark in the NHL. The Tampa Bay defenseman was called for three penalties in the first two periods, but the Flyers couldn't take advantage.

And being at home should have been an added bonus, but it might have had a bit of the opposite effect.

"We were a lot more patient on the road because we didn't have 20,000 fans screaming at us to shoot the puck," Flyers captain Keith Primeau said.

Philadelphia scored six power-play goals on 20 chances in the first seven games of the playoffs, but in the seven games since the Flyers have only clicked twice in 31 opportunities.

Getting shots from the point is part of the game plan, but getting second chances in front of the net is a byproduct the Flyers didn't get a chance to enjoy. Instead, many of their shots on the power play were blocked.

"Right now they're pretty good to get in front of the goalie and deflect them," forward Simon Gagne said. "I don't know how many shots we have on the power play, but they all go on the side of the net."

Kubina took a high-sticking penalty 9:09 in when the game was still scoreless, but the Flyers managed only a long shot by defenseman Kim Johnsson during the advantage.

Tampa Bay was then called for having too many men on the ice with 3:55 left in the first, but again only one puck got through to goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.

Kubina was sent off again for charging 57 seconds into the

middle period, giving the Flyers a chance to climb out of a 2-0 hole.

Defenseman Vladimir Malakhov fired two slap shots at Khabibulin that were turned aside, and Johnsson added another. But the only thing louder than the thud the drives made when striking the goalie's pads were the groans from a crowd that was waiting for something to cheer about.

A fourth shot by forward Jeremy Roenick was turned aside during that power play by Khabibulin, who looked nothing like the goalie chased out of the nets in Philadelphia's 6-2 victory in Game 2.

Kubina went off a third time for tripping with just over two minutes left in the second period. The Flyers couldn't muster any shots on that advantage and left the ice stuck in the same 2-0 hole they dug in the opening period.

Tampa Bay took only one penalty in the final period, and the Flyers recorded one shot -- again by a defenseman from long range.

"We've been talking about getting shots from the point, but if the shot is not there you can't shoot it," Johnsson said. "But we have other stuff, too, that we're working on. We have to keep on working on it and maybe work a little bit harder to get that little extra."

The Flyers also had trouble with their defense corps after Marcus Ragnarsson went down with a hand injury early in the first period. Sami Kapanen, a forward now playing defense, had moved up during power plays in Game 2 but he was back on the blue line Thursday.

"Obviously, I like to contribute more a little more on the power play," Kapanen said. "There's still plenty of hockey left, but in order to win I think the power play has got to get better."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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