Final

Series (Game 3 of 4)

Tampa Bay leads 4-0

Game 1: Thursday, December 18th
Lightning5Final
OT
Flyers4
Game 2: Saturday, January 3rd
Flyers1Final
Lightning6
Game 3: Monday, February 2nd
Lightning2Final
Flyers1
Game 4: Tuesday, February 17th
Flyers2Final
Lightning5

Lightning 2

(27-16-3, 63 pts)

Flyers 1

(26-12-5, 68 pts)

7:00 PM ET, February 2, 2004

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
TB 0 2 02
PHI 0 1 01

P. Kubina (Lightning - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Handzus (Flyers - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

D. Sydor (Lightning - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

Esche sprains knee, MRI scheduled for Tuesday

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Flyers lost a lot more than a game.

The Flyers, fighting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, lost goalie Robert Esche to sprained left knee in their 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.

Esche was hurt in a collision with teammate Simon Gagne in a scramble near the Flyers' goal at 2:48 of the second period. Esche remained in the game for the next 1:35 before being replaced by Neil Little, recalled from Philadelphia of the AHL on Friday.

"It's sore," Esche said. "My foot was on the goal post and Simon just slid into me. I hurt it immediately."

Esche, who stopped all 10 shots he faced, will have an MRI exam Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury.

"It's a temporary injury," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He will be back. He's not out for the season."

Tampa Bay's Pavel Kubina and Ruslan Fedotenko scored on the Lightning's first two shots on Little.

"Right now we are playing confident hockey," Kubina said. "Our special teams are working. So is our power play and penalty killing. We showed it tonight."

Kubina scored on a power-play slap shot seven minutes into the second period, and Fedotenko made it 2-1 at 8:42.

"Philly is one of the toughest teams to beat at home and now we have beaten them twice in their building," Kubina said. "It is fun right now for the whole team."

Michal Handzus scored for the Flyers, who had five-game unbeaten string snapped.

Handzus opened the scoring at 2:14 of the second period, lifting a loose puck high over goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.

"Nick needs to be a big part of this success as we go down the stretch," Lightning coach John Tortorella said, "Tonight, he stood tall. He made some big saves at key times."

Game notes


Philadelphia RW Tony Amonte returned after missing two games because of a sprained right knee. ... Tampa Bay increased its Southeast Division lead over idle Atlanta to 13 points. ... The Flyers had killed 18 straight penalties before Kubina's goal. ... Tampa Bay RW Martin St. Louis extended his career-high scoring streak to 10 games with an assist on Fedotenko's goal. ... The Lightning are 3-0 against Philadelphia this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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