Oh boy, this was a fun one to look back on. In an overall great series, the Philadelphia Flyers were bested by the eventual 2004 Stanley Cup champions. Game two of this series proved to be important in terms of momentum. This was the most decisive victory for the Flyers as the final score, 6-2, shows it was far from a pretty game.
2004 – Flyers vs Lightning
In the 2003-2004 regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers won forty games under the coaching of Ken Hitchcock and captain Keith Primeau. That was enough to secure first place in the Atlantic Division. A “who’s who” of youth was present on this roster such as Simon Gagne, Justin Williams, Joni Pitkanen, Mike Comrie, Patrick Sharp, Todd Fedoruk, and Dennis Seidenberg. The Flyers had better odds to win the Stanley Cup this season than the two teams that were in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Philadelphia played the Tampa Bay Lightning four times during the 2003-2004 regular season. The Lightning won each of those games. Game two of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals marked the first time the Philadelphia Flyers won against Tampa Bay. Head-to-head, the Flyers were the underdog. In hindsight, we should have all expected the third period to unfold exactly the way it did.
With their backs already against the wall against a team they had yet to beat in 2003-2004, the Philadelphia Flyers came out hot. A forever Flyers favorite, John LeClair scored the first goal of the game in less than two minutes, off an assist from Michal Handzus. A few minutes before the midway mark of the period, Tim Taylor was called for slashing. Mark Recchi made the Tampa Bay Lightning pay with a powerplay goal, set up by Marcus Ragnarsson and Sami Kapanen. Kapanen then followed up with a short-handed goal when Branko Radivojevic served a hooking penalty.
Undisciplined hockey describes the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period, but the Philadelphia Flyers mirrored that in the second period. The only difference is the Flyers penalty kill didn’t allow the Lightning to capitalize. Donald Brashear served a too many men on the ice penalty, which is just a lack of concentration. Just before that, Vladimir Malakhov increased Philadelphia’s lead to 4-0. To close the second period, after Malakhov served a slashing penalty, Michal Handzus scored to give the Flyers a 5-0 lead.
Saying the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t appreciate being down five goals going into the final period is the understatement of the series. The number of penalty minutes in the third period alone totaled 118. This all took place after Mattias Timander scored another goal, putting the Philadelphia Flyers up by six. Four minutes later, Andre Roy received a game misconduct. It was a firestorm from there, but Ruslan Fedotenko and Martin St. Louis did light the lamp for the Lightning.
What Happened Next?
Danny Markov and Darryl Sydor started this party off in the third period with a fight. During the scuffle is when Andre Roy would receive his game misconduct along with a roughing penalty. In the second half of the period, Tim Taylor and Chris Dingman finished their game by serving misconduct penalties. The same happened to Donald Brashear. If you are a fan of “old-time hockey” and you want to see all hell break loose, give this game a visit.
This second game should have been the turning point the Philadelphia Flyers needed to steal the series from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Game three was in Philadelphia and the Lightning won 4-1. Each team traded wins until the series went to the final game. In game seven, Tampa Bay edged the Flyers, 2-1. I am willing to bet that if Philadelphia wins game seven, they win the Stanley Cup that season against the Calgary Flames.
Mandatory Credit – Harry How