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Philadelphia 1, Ottawa 0

May 2, 2003 at 1:14 AM

PHILADELPHIA, May 1 (UPI) -- Michal Handzus scored his first career playoff goal and Roman Cechmanek made 28 saves Thursday night as the Philadelphia Flyers stifled the Ottawa Senators to earn a 1-0 victory and even the Eastern Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.

After allowing numerous scoring chances in Tuesday's Game 3 overtime loss, Philadelphia shut down Ottawa's inside attack, limiting the Senators to perimeter shots.

"We weren't able to get the speed going from our own end," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We got tied up as soon as we hit their zone."

In the last six minutes, the Flyers kept Ottawa in its own zone until the final seconds with strong forechecking and a neutral zone trap, a style that led them to a share of the Jennings Trophy during the regular season.

"It was probably our best game of the series so far," Flyers captain Keith Primeau said. "We really fell back on our system and we relied on it heavily. Our guys were in position 95 percent of the time."

"Each and every guy played very well," Cechmanek said. "We played well defensively and I think tonight, we played like a team. That's the way I expect every game to now be against Ottawa."

Cechmanek posted his second shutout of the series and third of his playoff career. The unorthodox Czech Republic goaltender stopped 12 shots in the first period, five in the second and 11 in the third, including a save on Magnus Arvedson alone in the slot with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.

"It was easy," Cechmanek admitted. "I didn't face lots and lots of shots. They didn't have a lot of scoring chances, only a few in the first period and two or three in the third."

"The one two games ago was Roman Cechmanek's shutout," Flyers Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "In this one, everyone came to play, and we had to. We had to have everyone play, and we did."

Handzus gave his compatriot all the support he needed, deflecting defenseman Chris Therien's point shot past goalie Patrick Lalime late in the first period for his first postseason tally in 34 games.

The series shifts back to Ottawa for Game 5 on Saturday.

"We are going to play the same Saturday afternoon," Hitchcock said. "And when we come back here again (for Game 6), we are going to play exactly the same way. If we get beat, we get beat. We only know one way to play in the playoffs, and that's the way we played tonight."

The Flyers set the tone early, generating good scoring chances in the first period before breaking through.

Primeau's backhander from the low slot 1:55 into the contest was denied by Lalime, and Sami Kapanen lost control of the puck after cruising between the faceoff circles with 9:35 to go.

After winning a faceoff in the left circle, Handzus pushed the puck to Therien at the left point. With the blade of his stick, Handzus deflected the shot over Lalime's left shoulder and off the crossbar at 17:06 for a 1-0 lead.

"I won the draw and I tried to get in line for a tip-in," said Handzus, who led the Flyers during the regular season with nine game-winning goals. "Chris made a great shot and I just tipped it a little bit. I was pretty lucky."

Cechmanek made it stand with mostly routine saves as Philadelphia carried the play for the majority of the final two periods.

Second to Dallas' Marty Turco with a 1.83 goals-against average during the regular season, Cechmanek made one of his best saves 4:56 into the second, stopping Martin Havlat's shot from the left side of the net with his right pad.

"I think we need to generate more," Ottawa Coach Jacques Martin said. "In order to generate more, we have to get more pucks at the net. We need to get some rebounds, be a little sharper and a bit better with the execution."

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