The Lightning stands skate-to-skate with the Flyers and gets a point with the first 0-0 tie in franchise history.
By BRANT JAMES
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2001
PHILADELPHIA -- John Tortorella thought about the Flyers and saw a rough sketch of what he wants the Lightning to become.
Physical, talented and intense.
The league's worst road team sped up the timetable, if only for one afternoon, in one of the NHL's toughest environments. Mimicking the strengths and using a standout effort from goaltender Kevin Weekes, the Lightning played the first scoreless tie in club history at the First Union Center.
"The guys played hard," Tortorella said. "We really concentrated on trying to win the battles. It's been our focus here to try to do that consistently, and I think we got that against a pretty good hockey team, a pretty big team. So we'll take the point."
Weekes finished with 27 saves to improve his record to 13-24-3 and the Lightning's to 16-37-6. Weekes and his defense -- led by what Tortorella called Adrian Aucoin's best game with the Lightning -- established their tone midway through the second period, maintaining composure after the Flyers killed a five-on-three disadvantage.
"After that five-on-three, (the Flyers) surge on us," Tortorella said. "And our guys handled it very well. They had a little flurry at the end and then there was a TV timeout and the boys settled themselves back down and went back to playing.
"I think early in the year we give up a goal there."
With less than a minute left in the period, Weekes stopped a shot by Chris McAllister, chested down a follow-up by Mark Recchi and contained Simon Gagne, who was swooping in from right of the crease. Lightning defenseman Andrei Zyuzin rode Gagne to the boards, where a scrum erupted and Gagne strained his right shoulder as he fell.
"I tried to grab (Zyuzin) with my right hand, and he grabbed me first on my left and right there I lost (balance)," said Gagne, who partially dislocated his left shoulder. "I lost it and came down flat with left shoulder."
Weekes, who played in his first scoreless tie since the minors, hoped the Lightning learned through osmosis from Philadelphia.
"If we can learn from them as a team and incorporate that kind of focus and eagerness to compete in our own team's fabric, we're going to be a much better team," he said. "We did not have anybody scared. We knew it would be physical. There were guys getting hit, cut, and no one was scared."
The Lightning was outhit 21-18 but outshot the Flyers 36-27.
One attempt at physical play likely will cost the Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina for at least a week. With 16:37 left in the second, he chased Kent Manderville and a loose puck into the Lightning's end, missed a check and jammed his right knee into the boards. He was helped off the ice and treated for stretched connective tissue around his patella.
About the only negative in what Weekes described as a "moral victory" was the Lightning's continued power-play futility. The Lighting went 0-for-9 for the second straight game and fell to a 12.8 conversion percentage.
Keith Primeau (56 points), Gagne (54) and Recchi (54) provided most of the Flyers' offensive chances, but that line was always a poke or a stick from finishing. After Gagne's injury, a variety of playerstried to replace him. One, ex-Lightning Daymond Langkow, was stopped on two close-in chances in the third that would have extended his points streak to 10 games.
"Those are all-stars," Aucoin said. "Primeau creates space and Recchi is just all around. We did a job and I think (Jassen) Cullimore and Kubina shut them down early in the game and that kind of frustrated them."