PLAYOFFS
TB Wins series 4-3
40-21-6, 16-10-3 away
1
123T
PHI0101
TB1102
46-22-6, 24-10-3 home
2

Tampa Bay earns first trip to finals

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Dave Andreychuk was as happy for his

teammates as he was for himself.

The Tampa Bay captain is finally headed to the Stanley Cup

finals in his 22nd NHL season, and the rest of the Lightning are

making their first trip, too.

Nikolai Khabibulin makes one of his 22 saves. He has been stellar in the Bolts' wins.
Nikolai Khabibulin makes one of his 22 saves. He has been stellar in the Bolts' wins.

"Obviously you dream about this day and for it to happen, and

you don't know how you're going to feel," 40-year-old

Andreychuk said Saturday night. "I don't really feel relief. I

feel excitement more than anything else."

The Lightning beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in Game 7 of the

Eastern Conference finals, sending Tampa Bay into the Cup finals

against the Calgary Flames, who won the Western Conference title in

six games over San Jose.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Tampa.

"I feel excitement for what's happened to our club, the

improvements we've made in the last three years, and everybody in

that locker room should be pretty proud of the situation we're

in," Andreychuk said.

"Our job is not done yet. We feel that this is another step. We

have to be focused. Obviously, we can enjoy this tonight, but then

we've got to get back to work."

Andreychuk has played more regular-season games (1,597) than any

other active player without appearing in the Cup finals. Two other

teams he played on -- Toronto in 1993 and Colorado in 2000 -- lost

Game 7 of the conference finals.

"It's great to finally see him get a chance at the Cup," said

forward Fredrik Modin, who scored one of Tampa Bay's goals. "But

at the same time, we are all pretty excited for ourselves, too."

Ruslan Fedotenko also scored for Tampa Bay, and Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 22 shots as the Lightning rebounded from a disappointing loss in Game 6.

The Flyers were denied their first trip to the finals since

1997, but didn't go down without a fight after rallying to tie Game

6 late in regulation and winning it in overtime. Keith Primeau and

Simon Gagne saved Philadelphia's season on Thursday, and goalie

Robert Esche kept Game 7 from getting out of hand.

"Right now, I'm just disappointed for the players,"

Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Back in January and

February, we weren't a very good hockey club against Tampa, and now

we got to this stage."

Fedotenko's deflection on the power play gave the Lightning a

1-0 lead late in the first period. Modin scored 4:57 into the

second to make it 2-0 and whip a sellout crowd of 22,117 for Tampa

Bay's first Game 7 into a frenzy.

Kim Johnsson's goal trimmed Philadelphia deficit to 2-1 midway

through the second, and Esche stopped 17 shots in the period to

keep the Flyers in the game.

Neither team managed to win two straight in the series, just the

11th matchup in NHL history to go to Game 7 with the teams

alternating victories in the first six.

Tampa Bay won Games 1, 3 and 5 to take a 3-2 lead into Game 6 in

Philadelphia and was on the verge of making the Cup finals in just

its third playoff appearance when Primeau and Gagne saved the

Flyers.

The Lightning were less than two minutes from putting the series

away in Game 6 when Philadelphia's persistence paid off. Primeau scored with

1:49 remaining in the third period to force overtime, and Gagne's

goal 18:18 into the extra session extended the series.

Tampa Bay faulted itself for allowing Philadelphia to dictate

the tempo in the third period and overtime of the sixth game and

vowed not to let it happen again Saturday.

Although the Flyers dominated much of the opening period, they

were 0-for-2 on the power play. Philadelphia fell behind 1-0 when

Fedotenko scored on Tampa Bay's first chance with a man advantage.

The goal, with 3:14 left in the period, came with Primeau in the

penalty box for high-sticking. Brad Richards' slap shot from the

right point hit Martin St. Louis and deflected off Fedotenko's

stick past Esche, who was screened.

But unlike Game 6, when they sat on a one-goal lead, the

Lightning continued to play aggressively.

Jassen Cullimore, who returned after missing 12 games in the

postseason with a wrist injury, dug the puck out from the side of

the net and tapped it through the crease to Modin. His seventh goal

of the playoffs made it 2-0 less than five minutes into the second

period.

Philadelphia answered with Johnsson's goal with 9:44 left in the

second, and the Flyers nearly tied it three minutes later. But

Khabibulin stoned Primeau on a breakaway and it remained 2-1 the

rest of the way.

Esche finished with 30 saves. Khabibulin had seven stops in the

third period, the last coming with less than 10 seconds remaining.

"We just feel like we have enough talented guys and enough

older guys that someone's going to find a way to get one in,"

Primeau said. "We've been resilient that way, but tonight we

didn't get it done."

Game notes

Richards had two assists. The Lightning are 9-0 in the

playoffs when he has a point. ... Tampa Bay outshot the Flyers 18-8

in the second period. ... The Flyers have played one other Game 7

in a conference final, losing 2-1 to New Jersey at home in 2000.

... Cullimore played for the first time since Game 3 of the

Lightning's first-round series against the New York Islanders. ...

The Flyers finished the series 1-for-25 on the power play, and were

1-for-38 dating to Game 4 of their second-round series against

Toronto.