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Hostile territory

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published May 13, 2004

Let's see, the Lightning and Flyers fought their way through the last 10 minutes of Game 2. Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella told Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock to shut up, and Flyers GM Bob Clarke called Tortorella a "pathetic little man."

Do you think the Wachovia Center crowd is going to be ready?

"You've got to go in there with the attitude that you're not intimidated," Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk said. "We saw what happened in Montreal. We got off to good starts in those games and quieted the crowd. We have to do that in Philly. It's not going to be easy. It's fun. It's exciting."

"For sure it will be a loud building," center Vinny Lecavalier said. "They'll be screaming. It's part of the game. It's a tough building to play in but we're ready."

Lecavalier said a hostile atmosphere doesn't just work for the home team.

"Even though you are the away team, you get so motivated," he said. "It brings the intensity level up. I'm excited to go to Philly.

"We're not going there to win one out of two. We want to win both of them. We want to be up (three games to one), and we'll do what we have to get them."

Steady as she goes

The Lightning's best trait this season seems to be its ability to stay even-keel. It doesn't get full of itself after victories, nor does it beat itself up after losses.

Center Brad Richards said Tampa Bay might have been a tad swept away with itself after winning eight consecutive games and taking a 1-0 lead against the Flyers.

"So maybe it's good we got beat like that," he said.

Tampa Bay, though, isn't down in the dumps and won't make the mistake again of being overconfident.

"That's an important thing when you go through the playoffs," Tortorella said. "There are some things that go on - some good stuff when you can't get too high and then you face a little adversity when things don't go your way."

Tortorella's negative comments about Hitchcock and Clarke hardly seem like even-keel, but he said his team is mentally prepared for Game 3. And, his comments about the coach and GM notwithstanding, he is impressed with Philadelphia. That is the reason he isn't tearing up the game plan two games into the series.

"I don't buy all this rhetoric about adjustment this, adjustment that," Tortorella said. "Philly is a quality team. They played harder. They did a lot of little things right that win a game and we didn't. We had a bad game. Now it's done.

So much for playing nice

Someone asked Tortorella if he regretted the last 10 minutes of Game 2 because to some "sending a message ... is not very becoming to the game."

Tortorella laughed.

"To be honest with you I'm not really concerned with what people think is becoming to the game," he said. "When you play a seven-game series and the score is the way it is, I think you need to get involved.

"That stuff is part of hockey. To me it's no big deal. I don't think it really got out of hand. Maybe more of it would have been better for our club."

Cause and effect

It wasn't difficult for Hitchcock to explain why his team won Game 2. First there was a change of mind-set.

"Sometimes when you play a team like Tampa, you want to play conservative," he said. "We want to go the other way. We want to play with some risk. We want to take chances, and hopefully it'll pay off. It did. Our thought process changed a little bit. We couldn't continue to play the same way we were because we weren't able to get enough goals."

And speaking of that ...

"The difference in the two games, frankly, was that we were able to score on our odd-man rushes in Game 2, and we didn't score in Game 1," Hitchcock said. "We did an awful lot of things really well in both games, so if we can continue to build on that, those are good things. To be honest with you, we're playing pretty well."

Ask a silly question

A television reporter asked Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin if he wanted to "bounce back" from his Game 2 performance when he was pulled after 26 minutes and four goals.

Khabibulin paused, smiled and said, "Uh, yes."

Duh.

But Khabibulin did take his share of the blame for the 6-2 loss.

"I didn't have the best game," Khabibulin said. "The first shot ( John LeClair's goal less than two minutes in) I should've stopped. That started things."

It started the end of Tampa Bay's eight-game win streak.

"The good thing is, no matter what the score was, it was just one game," Khabibulin said. "We didn't play well, but it's over. Now we just have to get ready for the next game."

Leaving on a jet plane

With sweat still glistening on his forehead after the Game 2 loss, Andreychuk was ready to jump on a plane, fly to Philadelphia and start Game 3.

Right then.

That's how maddening the loss was for Tampa Bay. And that's how eager the Lightning is to purge that dreadful performance from its system.

"I think we can learn from what happened in the first period, but the bottom line is we lost the game," Andreychuk said. "If we had lost 9-0 or 1-0 in overtime, still, it's a loss and we're going to move on from there. That's the thing with the playoffs, no matter how bad you lose, it's only one game and the series is 1-1."

The Flyers jumped on Tampa Bay for three quick goals on Monday, one even strength, one power play and one short-handed.

Fight club

Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle said the fisticuffs that characterized the third period of Game 2 - two major scrums resulted in 64 penalty minutes for Tampa Bay, including four 10-minute misconducts - can be good for team unity.

"That's where a team comes together sometimes," Boyle said. "I don't want to say you need one of those games, but once in a while those types of things are good. The guys show each other that we've got each other's backs."

[Last modified May 13, 2004, 02:20:18]

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