Philadelphia (44-20-4) at Florida (24-35-9)

Fair Currently: Sunrise, FL
Temp: 81° F
  • Game info: 3:00 pm EDT Sun Apr 6, 2003
  • TV: Comc
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Now that their first-round playoff opponent is set, the Philadelphia Flyers can afford to rest some players when they meet the Florida Panthers in the final game of the regular season for both teams.

The Flyers did their part Friday to stay alive in the race for the Atlantic Division title, beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Philadelphia, however, didn’t get any cooperation from the New Jersey Devils, who beat the New York Rangers 2-1 to win the Atlantic and capture the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

Finishing fourth in the East means the Flyers will open the playoffs at home against the fifth-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It’s nice to know who we’re going to play now,” right wing Mark Recchi said. “Toronto really loaded up and did a good job.”

The best news to come out of Friday’s game for Philadelphia was the performance of left wing Simon Gagne, who scored twice in only his second game back after missing 13 with a groin strain.

“This is good for him,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “This is what he needed. He’s a goal scorer. He could have had four or five.”

Dmitry Yushkevich and Sami Kapanen also scored for the Flyers, who won their fourth straight and are 5-0-2 in their last seven.

“We want to go into the playoffs playing well,” Recchi said. “We feel good. We have one more game and then we go at it.”

Goalie Roman Cechmanek, who likely will get the day off Sunday, continued his outstanding play with 28 saves Friday. He has allowed just 11 goals and has two shutouts during a personal 7-0-2 stretch.

The Panthers, out of the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, posted a rare home victory Friday, 4-1 over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Niklas Hagman, Denis Shvidki and Ivan Majesky scored first-period goals and Roberto Luongo stopped 34 shots as Florida ended a franchise-record eight-game home losing streak and a 14-game winless skid at the Office Depot Center.

“This game was important,” Majesky said. “We have a terrible record at home. We’ve had some good games at home but we didn’t make it. I just want to enjoy this.”

Florida is an NHL-worst 8-20-7-5 at home.

STANDINGS: Flyers - 105 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Atlantic Division. Panthers - 70 points, 4th place, 23 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Jeremy Roenick, 27 goals and 59 points; Roenick and Recchi, 32 assists; Donald Brashear, 145 PIM. Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 36 goals and 65 points; Viktor Kozlov, 34 assists; Peter Worrell, 189 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 4): Flyers - Power play: 14.2 percent (46 for 324), 21st in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (281 for 330), 9th. Panthers - Power play: 14.2 percent (48 for 339), 23rd. Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (287 for 352), 26th.

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Cechmanek (33-15-10, 6 SO, 1.83 GAA); Robert Esche (11-9-3, 2, 2.21). Panthers - Luongo (20-34-7, 6, 2.71); Jani Hurme (4-10-6, 1, 2.74).

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 22; Panthers, 4-2. At Philadelphia, Luongo made 44 saves and Marcus Nilson, Matt Cullen and Kristian Huselius scored third-period goals for Florida.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 23-10-5-2 on the road; Panthers - 8-20-7-5 at home.

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