Philadelphia, PA – Peter Forsberg tied the game with less than a minute to play and Joni Pitkanen scored in overtime as the Flyers defeated the Florida Panthers at the Wachovia Center, 5-4.
Forsberg's first goal of the season came with just 50 seconds remaining in regulation. Eric Desjardins passed the puck to Simon Gagne, who quickly sent it towards the net. It hit goaltender Roberto Luongo, but Forsberg got just enough of it on the rebound to tip it in with goaltender Robert Esche pulled for an extra attacker.
Joni Pitkanen completed the comeback when he found the rebound of a shot by Desjardins. He stopped the puck with his skate and beat a diving Luongo 73 seconds into the extra session as the Flyers improved to 5-2-1 on the season.
Forsberg was dominant for much of the night, adding two assists to go along with his game-tying goal.
"He controlled the tempo and he played a wonderful hockey game, as did a lot of guys," said Ken Hitchcock. "You have to have your best players playing if you're going to win the hockey game, and we did tonight."
Leading the league in assists now with 14, Forsberg had a great opportunity for his first goal when he was awarded a penalty shot at 15:32 of the third with the Flyers down 4-3. His attempt glanced off of the cross bar.
"I thought it was in when I shot it," said Forsberg of the penalty shot. "I'm happy with the goal and getting it out of the way. It got kind of annoying to not score for a long time. It feels really good, and I'm happy we tied it up and won the game. That was big for this team."
Florida struck first in the game on an odd-looking power play goal. The puck bounced on top of the Flyers' net, and was tipped off by Stephen Weiss before Nathan Horton backhanded it out of mid-air at 10:40 for the only goal of the first period.
Jeff Carter's first goal as a pro tied the game at 4:46 of the second period. Pitkanen skated the puck behind the net and fed Carter on the other side of the crease and Carter stopped it with his skate before whacking it behind Luongo.
Luongo made some key saves on a Flyers power play with Eric Cairns in the penalty box for roughing shortly after Carter's goal to keep the game tied. First, he robbed Pitkanen on a redirection attempt with his right pad and moments later made a diving stick save on a shot by Gagne.
His efforts paid off as the Panthers scored the next two goals. Olli Jokinen found the rebound of a shot by Horton at 8:56 on the power play and at 16:58 a wrist shot by Martin Gelinas bounced off of a backwards-skating Kim Johnsson and past Esche to make it a 3-1 Florida lead.
The Flyers got one back on a power play of their own late in the period when Forsberg found Gagne in the faceoff circle and Gagne's low shot went just inside the far post at 18:35.
Gagne scored in the third period during a four-on-four to make cut Florida's lead to 4-3 for his third two-goal game of the season. He has a total of nine on the year, trailing only the Rangers' Jaromir Jagr
"I think we played hard as a team," said Gagne. "We battled very hard and it just shows the character that this team has. We (Forsberg and himself) said before the game we need to have a strong game and our line needs to be one of the best lines every night."
Florida finsihed the night 3-for-8 on the power play while the Flyers were 1-for-7.
The Flyers travel to Carolina to face the Hurricanes on Friday night before heading to Ottawa for a game against the Senators on Sunday night. They begin a five-game homestand next Thursday, November 3 against the Washington Capitals at the Wachovia Center.FLYERS NOTES
The Flyers have now sold out all five home games this season. … Dennis Seidenberg was scratched. … Forsberg had his fifth multiple-assist game. … The Flyers improved to 4-1 on home ice this season after losing the season opener.