Flyers Even Series Against Senators

Friday, May 2nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Even though he didn't face many tough shots, Roman Cechmanek made all the saves in another crucial game.

Cechmanek stopped 28 shots and Michal Handzus scored the only goal as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Ottawa Senators 1-0 on Thursday night to even the series 2-2.

Game 5 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal is Saturday in Ottawa.

After losing Game 1, Cechmanek was brilliant in a 33-save performance in a 2-0 road victory Sunday night. He stopped 24 shots, allowing an overtime goal on a shot he never saw, in a 3-2 loss Tuesday night.

``This one was easier. I didn't get a lot of shots and they didn't have a lot of good chances,'' Cechmanek said.

The series winner will play the New Jersey-Tampa Bay winner in the Eastern Conference final. New Jersey took a 3-1 lead into its home game Friday night.

In the Western Conference, Vancouver is at Minnesota on Friday night, with the Canucks leading 2-1. Anaheim leads Dallas 3-1, with Game 5 set for Saturday.

Faced with the possibility of going to Ottawa down 3-1, the Flyers didn't allow the Senators many scoring chances in Game 4. They clogged the neutral zone, and kept Ottawa out of the offensive zone, especially late in the game.

``The one two games ago was Roman's shutout. This was the team's,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``Everybody came to play.''

Cechmanek has stopped 131 of 135 shots in the five games following a loss during the playoffs.

He made a tumbling chest save on a shot by Magnus Arvedson that was headed toward an empty net with just over seven minutes left, and Philadelphia's defensive pressure shut down the Senators the rest of the way.

Cechmanek's best save of the first two periods came when he stopped Martin Havlat's point-blank backhander with his right pad early in the second.

``Every game, he proves he's a great goaltender,'' Handzus said.

Handzus scored with 2:54 left in the first period, deflecting a shot by Chris Therien into the top left corner. It was Handzus' first playoff goal in 34 games.

Handzus won a faceoff and passed the puck back to Therien, who wristed a shot from just inside the blue line. With two defenders draped on him, Handzus got the blade of his stick on the puck, sending it over Patrick Lalime's shoulder.

``They ran interference,'' Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. ``He was my point and I was unable to get out and it hit a stick. It was the kind of goal that is going to win this game.''

Lalime had 25 saves. He made a chest stop on a point-blank shot by Kim Johnsson minutes after stopping a one-timer from the slot by Jim Vandermeer midway through the second period.

Johnsson hit the post during a power-play a few minutes later.

``It's the best-of-three now. The next game is the biggest one,'' Lalime said. ``Momentum is not important. A new game is new momentum.''

The Flyers didn't get a shot in their only power-play opportunity, and are 0-for-10 with the man advantage in this series.

Ottawa, which beat the New York Islanders in five games in the opening round, has never advanced past the second round, losing twice before.

The Flyers lost to Ottawa in the first round last year, scoring a record-low two goals in five games. Philadelphia played the equivalent of nine games _ seven games and seven overtimes _ in its first-round victory over Toronto.

``They played hard, they played physical and wore us down,'' Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said.