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Tampa strikes again

Canadiens are in another 2-0 hole

Cory Sarich flicked the bouncing puck into the neutral zone, hoping to keep it away from the Montreal Canadiens. He wound up giving the Tampa Bay Lightning a whole lot more.

Vincent Lecavalier caught up to the pass at the blue line, swooped in on Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore, and scored his second goal yesterday, virtually assuring the top-seeded Lightning would go up, 2-0, in their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series in Tampa.

"I didn't know Vinny was there," Sarich said. "I knew they had three guys coming up, so I was just getting it out there."

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 26 shots to improve to 6-1 in the playoffs, and Lecavalier scored twice for the second straight game as the Lightning won, 3-1, and put the Canadiens into a deep hole for the second series in a row.

The seventh-seeded Canadiens rallied from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate the Bruins in the first round. Montreal lost the first two games of that series and had just one goal before rallying.

However, the way Khabibulin is playing, coming from behind against the young, confident Lightning could be more difficult.

"We know we can do it, but we also know that we're going to have to adjust our game, because if we play like the first 10 minutes tonight, it's going to be tough to win some games," Theodore said.

"With the skill they have, they're going to make you pay."

Flyers 2, Maple Leafs 1 -- Robert Esche made 26 saves and Alexei Zhamnov scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period, helping host Philadelphia beat Toronto to take a 2-0 series lead. The Flyers have never lost a best-of-seven series in which they won the first two games, going 16-0.

Despite getting captain Mats Sundin back, the Leafs couldn't generate much offense, getting their only goal from enforcer Tie Domi.

Flyers tough guy Donald Brashear also scored.

Zhamnov put the Flyers ahead, 2-1, with a power-play goal with 11:35 remaining. His shot from the side of the net trickled between goaltender Ed Belfour's legs.

Esche made several outstanding saves for his sixth win in seven playoff starts.

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