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Game 7: period by period

Period 1: Fedotenko has a good tip

STEVE LEE
Published May 23, 2004

In a game of momentum vs. home-ice advantage, the Flyers, who tied Game 6 late en route to a 5-4 overtime win, came out stronger. They outshot the Lightning 8-6, but Nikolai Khabibulin was on his game and the Lightning was better on special teams.

Tampa Bay killed two penalties before scoring on its only power play of the period. Just 13 seconds into Keith Primeau's penalty for high-sticking, Ruslan Fedotenko redirected Brad Richards' shot from the right point to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. Fedotenko tipped the puck in mid-air for his ninth goal of the playoffs and sixth of the series.

THE POSITIVE: Tampa Bay's short-handed unit remained stellar when it killed off two penalties in the period. That rendered the Flyers ineffective on 25 of 26 power plays.

THE NEGATIVE: Tampa Bay was outshot 8-6 and took two penalties (Vinny Lecavalier for elbowing and Pavel Kubina for holding), but neither infraction proved costly.

KEY PLAY: Fedotenko's goal. Fedotenko tipped Richards' shot past Robert Esche for a 1-0 lead. Martin St. Louis also got an assist for taking the puck away from Vladimir Malakhov along the right boards.

KEY PLAYER: Including Game 6, Fedotenko has scored Tampa Bay's last three goals. He beat Esche high over the right shoulder, then high to the glove side in Game 6. Saturday, he tipped the puck out of mid-air. Think Fedotenko wanted to get back at the team that traded him?

Period 2: Second still Lightning time

Tampa Bay owns this period and headed into Game 7 with a scoring advantage. Make that 19-9.

Each team scored as the Lightning kept a one-goal lead.

Fredrik Modin scored his seventh goal from the left side of the crease, benefitting from Jassen Cullimore's persistence on getting the puck across from the right post and past Flyers goalie Robert Esche. That gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead.

Philadelphia scored at 10:16 to cut its deficit in half. Michal Handzus won a faceoff just inside the Lightning end on the right side and passed to Kim Johnsson, whose long wrister from the high slot befuddled Nikolai Khabibulin.

It might have been worse, but Khabibulin stoned Keith Primeau on a breakaway just before the Philadelphia center crashed into the right post, knocking the net off its moorings.

THE POSITIVE: Not only did Cullimore return after sitting out injured for 12 games, but the Lightning defenseman chose the right time to pinch in and set up Modin's goal. Tampa Bay outshot Philadelphia 18-8 in the second.

THE NEGATIVE: Khabibulin allowed a soft goal when he whiffed on Johnsson's wrister that got past his blocker and over his right pad.

KEY PLAY: Stationed on the left side of the crease, Modin flicked the puck into an open net after it squirted through Esche as Cullimore hammered away.

KEY PLAYER: Richards has set up both Lightning goals with slap shots. Fedotenko redirected one in the first and Richards' blast off the back boards led to Modin's goal.

Period 3: Cup final. Say no more

Home ice prevailed with Tampa Bay improving to 7-2 at the St. Pete Times Forum in the playoffs, including 3-1 in a seesaw battle with Philadelphia.

Want another number? How about 1-0 in the team's first playoff Game7.

Tampa Bay is the third newcomer to make the Cup final in the past three seasons, joining Anaheim (lost to New Jersey last season) and Carolina (lost to Detroit in 2002).

Think Ruslan Fedotenko didn't want another against his former team? On a scramble in front with 3:52 left he bulled headfirst into a pileup in the crease, trying to push the puck past Robert Esche, who finally froze it.

The Lightning win means Dave Andreychuk will play in a Cup for the first time in his 22-year career.

THE POSITIVE: The Lightning obviously learned a lesson from Game6 in which playing on its heels in the third period backfired. Tampa Bay did not let up this time and its reward is a Stanley Cup berth.

THE NEGATIVE: Tampa Bay won its first Game 7 and is going to the Cup final. Just can't find anything wrong with that.

KEY PLAY: Brad Richards had a shot at giving the Lightning a two-goal lead, but fanned on a pass from Cory Stillman on an odd-man rush with 6:02 left. Esche made the stop with his right shoulder and Richards smacked his stick against the glass in frustration.

KEY PLAYER: Some teams dole out seventh player awards to overachievers. The Lightning's "seventh player" should be awarded to the St. Pete Times Forum record crowd of 22,117.

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