PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference semifinal; tied 1-1.
Philadelphia may still be pretty angry entering Game 3 as its East semifinal series shifts to the First Union Center.
Criticized by their coach and annoyed by an article in a local paper, the Flyers got a bounce-back performance from Cechmanek and goals from Simon Gagne and Mark Recchi to defeat the Senators 2-0 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
Coach Ken Hitchcock said Cechmanek was “going to have to be better” after the Flyers blew a 2-0 lead and lost 4-2 in Friday’s opener, and Cechmanek responded Sunday with 33 saves, including 17 in the second period.
“We were ready for tonight’s game,” Cechmanek said. “Maybe I was too emotional the first game. I have to play like in the regular season.”
Philadelphia was also inspired by an article that said the Flyers were done if they lost Game 2. Center Jeremy Roenick cut the story out and showed it around at Sunday’s morning skate.
“It fired all of us up,” he said. “Ottawa can thank the media for being a bunch of idiots. It was a smack in the face, and our guys didn’t like that too much.”
Philadelphia managed the split in Ottawa and seized the home-ice advantage, an encouraging performance considering the Flyers were weary after a grueling seven-game series against Toronto in the opening round that ended two days before Game 1 against the Senators.
The Game 2 victory, however, may not do much to lighten the Flyers’ mood, especially Hitchcock’s.
“I didn’t think we played very well,” he said. “I thought we played better in the first game. I don’t think we played well until we got mad.”
Hitchcock was also mad at what he perceived to be overly physical play by Ottawa, and threatened to take measures to match that style.
“We’re playing a dirty hockey team,” Hitchcock said, adding that he might dress tough guy Todd Fedoruk for Game 3.
While the Flyers are playing with a chip on their collective shoulder, the Senators didn’t appear particularly concerned after the Game 2 defeat—or with Hitchcock’s comments.
“If they’re going to come back and take a bunch of high-sticking penalties, we’re a bunch of big boys,” Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said. “Hopefully, we can come back and make them pay (on the power play).”
Patrick Lalime, who allowed goals on the Flyers’ first two shots in the opener, made 21 saves Sunday.
While Lalime hasn’t been dominant for the Senators, the outcome of the series may hinge on whether Cechmanek can maintain some consistency. He struggled with his chronic weakness, poor lateral movement, in Game 1, but showed much more quickness and played better angles in Game 2.
“He is a good goalie,” Senators forward Marian Hossa said. “He stood on his head, and I thought they played well defensively.”
Cechmanek will have to continue to be spectacular if Philadelphia is unable to slow down the skilled Ottawa forwards. The Senators carried the play in Game 2, outshooting the Flyers 33-23, and were stopped by Cechmanek on numerous excellent chances from in close.
“You can see when he’s on and when he’s calm,” Roenick said of Cechmanek. “I sensed it in the warmup. He was terrific for our hockey club.”
Game 4 will be Thursday night at Philadelphia.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Hossa, 4 goals and 7 points; Bryan Smolinski, 5 assists; Chris Neil, 13 PIM. Flyers - Recchi, 7 goals and 10 points; Michal Handzus, 5 assists; Donald Brashear, 17 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Senators - Power play: 12.5 percent (5 for 40). Penalty killing: 91.7 percent (33 for 36). Flyers - Power play: 13.2 percent (5 for 38). Penalty killing: 88.9 percent (32 for 36).
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: 1-1-2. The clubs played a low-scoring and tight series, with Ottawa outscoring Philadelphia 6-5. The teams split the first two contests and played to 2-2 ties in the final two meetings. Cechmanek and Lalime each posted a 1-1-1 mark, with Cechmanek recording a 1.63 GAA to Lalime’s 1.62.