The goaltender has been unpredictable in the series against Ottawa, alternating subpar performances with shutouts. The Flyers need a strong performance from him in Game 6 Monday night when they try to avoid elimination.
Cechmanek was yanked midway through the second period of a 5-2 loss Saturday after allowing four goals on just 16 shots. Both his victories in the best-of-7 series were shutouts.
"If we anticipate winning, then Roman will have to be at his best," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said Sunday.
Cechmanek gave up four goals on 17 shots in the Flyers' Game 1 defeat. But he rebounded with a brilliant 33-save performance in a 2-0 road victory last Sunday. Cechmanek gave up three goals, including one in overtime on a shot he never saw, in a loss in Game 3, then came back with 28 saves in a 1-0 victory Thursday.
"We have one chance and no more. We need to win tomorrow's game and play better than we did last night," Cechmanek said. "I never look (back). For me, next game is important and I have to be ready."
A victory Monday night would send Ottawa to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in the franchise's 11-year history. The Senators would meet the New Jersey Devils, who eliminated Tampa Bay in five games.
The Senators were in the same situation against Toronto last year, but the Maple Leafs won Game 6 in Ottawa and took Game 7 at home.
"We just have to make sure we have everybody doing what they need to do to make us successful," Senators forward Curtis Leschyshyn said.
The Senators finished with an NHL-best 113 points in the regular season, and they beat the New York Islanders in five games in the first round.
"We had everyone going (Saturday). Now we'll have to be even better," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said.
Officiating has been a major factor in this series. In Game 5, each team had just one power play with referees Kerry Fraser and Brad Watson calling the game. In Game 6, veterans Don Koharski and Dan Marouelli gave Ottawa seven power plays, to four for the Flyers. The Senators scored twice with the man-advantage and once short-handed.
Philadelphia is 0-for-14 on the power play in the series.
"Our penalty killing just hasn't been doing the job. Our power play hasn't been scoring," Flyers forward Tony Amonte said. "It's been the difference in a couple of games now."
Cechmanek has been the difference in several games throughout his career, and the Flyers hope he can do it again. The Czech Republic native has a 1.96 lifetime goals-against average, lowest among goaltenders with at least 150 regular-season games since 1943-44.
As a 30-year-old NHL rookie in 2000-01, Cechmanek compiled a 35-16-6 record with 10 shutouts and was a Vezina Trophy finalist. But he gave up 18 goals as the Flyers lost to Buffalo in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
Last season, Cechmanek was 24-13-6 with a 2.05 goals-against average. But he didn't get much help in the playoffs, allowing just seven goals in four games as the Flyers scored a record-low two goals in a five-game loss to Ottawa.
Cechmanek went 33-15-10 with a 1.83 goals-against this season, and he finally got his first playoff series victory when the Flyers beat Toronto in seven games.
"He took some real unnecessary heat yesterday. There were mistakes made far in front of him before they happened to get in the goal," Hitchcock said. "We've had a good ride with him so far, but these are games where goaltenders become huge factors."
The Associated Press News Service
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