Flyers fail to capitalize on early chances

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- It took the Tampa Bay Lightning just one
period to get back into the flow of the playoffs.

Showing little rust from an eight-day layoff between series, the
Lightning won their eighth straight playoff game Saturday by
beating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 in the opener of the Eastern
Conference finals.

"I think, overall, if you ask a lot of guys, I don't think they felt as good as they thought they might," Tampa Bay's Brad Richards said. "But at the same time, as the game went on, I think our game kind of calmed down and we played a little bit better."

Richards, Dave Andreychuk and Chris Dingman scored and Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 19 shots for the Lightning, who beat the Flyers for the fifth straight time this season and improved to 9-1 in these playoffs.

Game 2 is Monday night in Tampa.

"I'm definitely not discouraged," Philadelphia goaltender
Robert Esche said. "We didn't come in here by no stretch of the
imagination assuming it would go four games, and I don't think they
did either."

One of the biggest questions before the opener was how Tampa Bay
would respond to having more than a week off after its
four-game sweep of Montreal in the second round.

The Lightning finished off the Canadiens on April 29 and bided time by trying to simulate game-like situations in practice until Philadelphia clinched its second-round victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

"I thought our guys handled themselves very well in getting
themselves settled," Lightning coach John Tortorella said.

With just three days between series, the Flyers were the sharper
team early. Nevertheless, they failed to take advantage of a couple
of scoring chances against Khabibulin in the first period and fell
behind 1-0 on Andreychuk's goal just over two minutes into the
second period.

"One thing we try to focus on as a team is stay levelheaded, not to get too emotionally high or low," Philadelphia's Jeremy Roenick said. "We thought we had a really good first period. We had some quality chances, and they weathered the storm pretty well."

Philadelphia, which had an apparent goal by Sami Kapanen wiped
out by a goaltender interference call against Keith Primeau, tied
it less than five minutes later when Michal Handzus knocked in a
rebound after Danny Markov's pass glanced off the center's skate
and ricocheted off Khabibulin's pad.

The goal was just the 10th the Tampa Bay goaltender has allowed
in 10 playoff games. And it was all the Flyers would be able to
manage, despite outshooting the Lightning 20-17.

Richards snapped the 1-1 tie with 6:26 left in the second period
and Dingman made it 3-1 seven minutes into the third period.

"I think we created enough opportunities. They defended the
front of the net well," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They
had a goals-against average under one. That's pretty impressive.
They obviously know how to play defense."

Philadelphia, which lost all four meetings between the teams
during the regular season, was left to wonder what might have been
if Kapanen's scoring opportunity had been allowed six minutes in.

The officials waved off the goal when Primeau -- on a breakaway --
crashed into Khabibulin after losing his balance in front of the
net. Kapanen tapped in the rebound as the goalie scrambled to his
feet to complain.

Primeau said he was told a penalty was called because he gave
Khabibulin a shove when he fell into the goalie. The Flyers captain
denied that.

"I'm trying to make a play, and I fall, and we scored on the
rebound," Primeau said. "I'm not going to give the goalie a shove
when we have a scoring chance."

Game notes
The Flyers are 6-0 at home in the playoffs, but dropped to 2-4 on the road. ... Fredrik Modin had assists on Tampa Bay's first two goals and has a team-leading 13 points in the playoffs. ... After taking nine shots in the opening period, the Flyers were
limited to 11 over the last two. ... Lightning assistant coach Craig Ramsay coached the Flyers to the conference finals in 2000, when they lost to New Jersey in seven games. ... Forward John LeClair was the only player in uniform for Philadelphia who was with the Flyers when they faced Tampa Bay in the playoffs in 1996. He had four goals in that first-round series, won by Philadelphia in six games. ... The crowd of 21,425 was just the second sellout Tampa Bay has had at home during the playoffs.