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Capitals Defeat Flyers, 5-3

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
(Philadelphia, PA, December 9) – Bryan Muir scored the eventual game-winning goal to break a third period tie, as the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Saturday night, 5-3.

On the play, Kris Beech skated the puck around behind the net and found Muir in the high slot for a redirection at 7:40 that found its way past Flyers goaltender Antero Niittymaki.

A delay-of-game penalty to defenseman Lars Jonsson late in the game led to a power play goal by Washington's Matt Pettinger at 19:09 to cap the scoring.

Washington took a 2-0 lead early in the second period on Brooks Laich's shorthanded goal at 1:33, but a couple of Simon Gagne scores tied the game.

A shot from high in the zone by Randy Jones rattled around in the crease, and Mike Knuble managed to get enough of the puck to slide it between the legs of goaltender Brent Johnson and Gagne slammed it in at 2:54 on the power play.

Gagne snuck behind defenseman Steve Eminger at the blue line and took a feed from Jussi Timonen before blasting a slap shot high over the shoulder of Johnson from the faceoff dot at 7:47 to tie the game at 2-2, but Washington responded.

Just 13 seconds after Gagne's second goal, Chris Clark found the rebound of a weak shot from the point by Shaone Morrisonn to give the Caps their lead back.

That lead also did not last very long, when Knuble's power play goal at the eight-minute mark made it 3-3.

Philadelphia managed to keep it a 3-3 game despite consecutive penalties shortly thereafter, including 29 seconds of a two-man advantage for Washington.

The Flyers were 2-for-8 on the power play while Washington finished 1-for-6.

"We battled back which showed a bit of character but in the end it is still a loss for us. We played well for forty minutes but at the end it was not good enough," said Gagne.

Philadelphia suffered a couple casualties during the game, as forwards Mike Richards and Geoff Sanderson both left after the first period with abdominal strains and did not return. That only added to the lengthy injury report for Philadelphia, as Peter Forsberg, Joni Pitkanen, Robert Esche, Sami Kapanen, Denis Gauthier, Jeff Carter and Mike Rathje all are out.

"Losing [Richards] early and losing [Sanderson] early depletes the lineup, but, having said that, I thought the guys stepped in and did a good job," said John Stevens. "I thought [Ryan] Potulny and [Stefan] Ruzicka did a good job of stepping up and taking more minutes and we still gave ourselves a chance to win the hockey game."

"We had a couple of injuries and a couple of us young guys got thrown in the mix. We are just going there to do the best we can to help the team win games," said Potulny.

Richards and Sanderson will be reevaluated on Sunday and could be lost for three to four weeks, said General Manager Paul Holmgren after the game.

Kapanen, who left Friday's game in New Jersey, was out due to back spasms while Pitkanen missed the contest with an abdominal muscle strain. Forsberg missed his second straight game with ankle discomfort.

Philadelphia remains home to play the New York Rangers on Tuesday night (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).

Philadelphia outshot the Capitals 36-32. … The Flyers are now 1-14-1 when allowing the first goal of the game. … Johnson made his second straight start against the Flyers, as Philadelphia has yet to face Olie Kolzig this season. … Philadelphia makes its first of two trips to Washington this season next Saturday, December 16.
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