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Carolina Hangs On For 2-1 Win

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
(Philadelphia, PA, December 19) – Simon Gagne scored a late third period goal but it was not enough for Philadelphia, as the Carolina Hurricanes held on for a 2-1 victory over the Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Tuesday night.

The second period belonged to the Hurricanes, as they outshot the Flyers 17-5 and increased their lead to 2-0. Anton Babchuk's slap shot past the glove of Antero Niittymaki 2:42 into the frame gave Carolina its two-goal cushion, which is where the game stood after 40 minutes.

Philadelphia responded with a strong third period and got on the board when Gagne tipped in a slap shot from the top of the circle at 14:05, but that was all the Flyers would muster as the team lost its seventh straight game.

"We challenged them in between [the second and third] periods and then they came out and looked like a good team," said John Stevens after the game. "We were just way too easy to play against in the second period."

"Before the third period the coach gave us a pretty good licking in between the second and third," said Todd Fedoruk. "I think we picked it up in the third period, but we have to learn to play like that for sixty minutes."

Carolina opened the scoring at 12:41 of the first period. Justin Williams set up to the left of Niittymaki, and made a nice deflection on a slap shot by Andrew Hutchinson.

The Flyers failed on three power plays in the period, but managed to kill off two late penalties to Kyle Calder and Randy Robitaille including half a minute of a two-man advantage.

The second period also featured a lengthy fight between Philadelphia's Ben Eager and Carolina's Tim Gleason, with Eager getting the upper hand.

The game marked the return of second-year center Jeff Carter, who played most of the night between Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble. Carter had missed the team's previous 20 games with a broken bone in his left foot. Philadelphia remained without center Peter Forsberg, who sat out with a slight concussion suffered in the Flyers' previous game on Saturday in Washington.

Carter had the Flyers' best chance to tie the game, but his quick wrist shot from the high slot with Niittymaki pulled was blocked away by Cam Ward with less than a minute to play.

Ward finished with 29 saves, while Niittymaki stopped 40 Hurricanes shots.

Niittymaki was strong in net, making his 12th straight start while Robert Esche remains out.

"That is a pretty skilled team and when you give them a lot of power plays they are going to have some shots," said a modest Niittymaki after the game.

Alexei Zhitnik played in his first home game as a Flyer, and led all defensemen with 29:30 time on ice.

The Flyers travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Thursday before returning home for a matinee matchup with the Ottawa Senators on Saturday at 1:00.

Rookie defenseman Jussi Timonen missed the game due to the flu. David Printz was recalled from the Phantoms to take his place. … The Flyers fell to 3-10-4 at the Wachovia Center this season. … Carolina was 0-for-6 on the power play while Philadelphia was 0-for-4.
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