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Blake's Hat Trick Leads Islanders to 4-2 Win

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia, PA – Jason Blake scored three goals and Brad Lukowich broke a 2-2 third period tie as the New York Islanders defeated the Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Saturday afternoon, 4-2.

On the game-winning goal, Jeff Carter overskated a puck at the blue line and New York's Mark Parrish picked it up. Parrish passed to Lukowich, who then followed up his own shot for a rebound goal at 4:43 of the third period. Philadelphia was unable to respond and an empty-net goal by Blake in the final minute sealed the victory for the Islanders.

"I think we had a couple great chances, but [goaltender Garth] Snow made a couple of big saves on us," said Simon Gagne. "What's happening right now is the same thing that has happened the last couple of games. We make a bad turnover, and what happens is it's in our net."

"It's very frustrating, especially after the game we played yesterday," said R.J. Umberger, who had both Flyers goals on the afternoon. "It was anybody's game going into the third, and we got out-competed and they played harder than us. It's very frustrating."

The Flyers played the game without Peter Forsberg, who entered Saturday tied for the league lead in points with 39. Forsberg suffered a mild right groin strain in Friday afternoon's win at Boston, and is listed as day-to-day. Mike Richards centered Gagne and Mike Knuble for most of the afternoon, before Michal Handzus was placed between the two for much of the third.

"Peter is a big player for the team, and we're going to miss him when he's not in the lineup," said Gagne. "I need to step up and some other guys need to step up, and hopefully he'll be back pretty soon."

New York took an early lead. Alexei Yashin swung behind the Flyers' net, and put a backhander on goal. The rebound popped out to the slot where Blake knocked it in just 31 seconds into the game.

It didn't take long for the Flyers to tie the game on a couple of goals by Umberger. At 1:39, Umberger attempted a centering pass to Carter but Parrish tipped the puck into his own net.

Later, on a delayed penalty call after a high stick on Jon Sim, Umberger's wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle trickled through Snow's five-hole.

Antero Niittymaki, making his second straight start for the first time this season, was key in keeping it a 1-1 game. He made a dazzling kick save on Parrish while the Flyers' were down two men, and then on the same sequence Miroslav Satan was whistled for hooking, nullifying the Islanders' advantage.

He fell to 5-2-1 on the season.

"I thought [Niittymaki] played very well yesterday, and I'm not sure he can be faulted on any of the goals today," said Ken Hitchcock. "We wanted to reward him. It's not a reflection on [Robert] Esche at all."

New York tied the game with the only goal of the second period when Blake, lying flat on his stomach at the side of the net, knocked in a bouncing puck on the power play.

The Islanders finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage, and Philadelphia was 0-for-3.

The Flyers travel to Long Island on Tuesday before returning home on Wednesday night to host the New Jersey Devils.

The Flyers won the previous two games against the Islanders, both at the Wachovia Center.  Carter assisted on both goals by Umberger. Turner Stevenson left the game early with a right hip flexor and did not return. The Flyers are only one of two teams to not take part in a shootout so far this season (Detroit). Philadelphia is 3-2 in its orange third jerseys. The Flyers have lost four straight home games.
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