Philadelphia (43-20-4) at Tampa Bay (36-23-5)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Tampa, FL
Temp: 89° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Fri Apr 4, 2003
  • TV: WPSG, SUN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Tampa Bay Lightning have already locked up a division title. The Philadelphia Flyers still have an outside chance at one themselves.

Trailing the New Jersey Devils by two points, Philadelphia hope to move into a tie for the Atlantic Division lead when it visits Tampa Bay in its penultimate game of the regular season.

The Devils visit the New York Rangers on Friday.

The Lightning, who also have two games remaining, clinched the Southeast Division title when the Ottawa Senators beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Thursday.

At the moment, however, both the Flyers and Lightning are more concerned with preparing for the opening of the Stanley Cup playoffs next week.

Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock certainly feels his team is peaking at the right time. Undefeated in six games, the Flyers have won their last three by a combined score of 13-1.

“This is the best we’ve been health-wise and everything since the start of the season,” Hitchcock said after the Flyers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 on Tuesday.

Goalie Roman Cechmanek recorded his 20th career shutout with the win, but he only had to stop 10 shots.

“Ten shots is not nice for me,” Cechmanek said. “Sometimes I wasn’t focused. I stand there for 10 minutes and nobody was shooting.”

The Lightning will almost certainly put more than 10 shots on goal. Tampa Bay is unbeaten in 13 games—a string that includes seven wins and six ties— and is anxious to start the postseason.

Tampa Bay will open the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the East and will meet Washington in the first round.

“We’re really excited, but it’s not just about getting the division title,” Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said after Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Montreal. “It’s about starting to win a playoff series.”

Lightning coach John Tortorella noted that having Nikolai Khabibulin in goal could give Tampa Bay a significant advantage in the playoffs. Khabibulin is 12-0-4 since losing to the New York Islanders on Feb. 11. He has a 1.23 goals-against average and a .954 saves percentage during that span.

The next assist for Lightning center Brad Richards will be his 57th of the season, breaking Brian Bradley’s franchise record set in 1995-96.

STANDINGS: Flyers - 103 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Atlantic Division. Lightning - 93 points, 1st place, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Jeremy Roenick, 27 goals and 58 points; Mark Recchi, 32 assists; Donald Brashear, 145 PIM. Lightning - Martin St. Louis, 33 goals; Richards, 56 assists; Lecavalier and Vaclav Prospal, 76 points; Andre Roy, 119 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 2): Flyers - Power play: 14.0 percent (45 for 321), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.9 percent (276 for 325), 10th. Lightning - Power play: 18.1 percent (70 for 386), 8th. Penalty killing: 83.2 percent (257 for 309), 16th.

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Cechmanek (32-15-10, 6 SO, 1.84 GAA); Robert Esche (11-9-3, 2, 2.21). Lightning - Khabibulin (30-21-11, 4, 2.43); John Grahame (17-13-6, 3, 2.44).

SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 28; Lightning, 3-0. At Philadelphia, Grahame stopped 34 shots for his second shutout of the season, and St. Louis and Fredrik Modin each had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 22-10-5-2 on the road; Lightning - 22-8-7-3 at home.

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