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Flyers Come Back, But Lose in Overtime to Colorado

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia, PA – Peter Forsberg tied the game with just over a minute left in regulation, but Alex Tanguay scored a power play goal in overtime as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon at the Wachovia Center, 4-3.

Philadelphia was whistled for two penalties in the extra session, as Kim Johnsson and Mike Rathje were called for slashing and hooking, respectively. The Flyers killed off 40 seconds of time on a two-man advantage, but Tanguay stripped Johnsson of the puck and sent a wrist shot just inside the post at 4:14.

Ken Hitchcock, although unhappy with the penalty call on Rathje, was pleased with the team's effort.

"We played, for coming back off the road, really well," said Hitchcock. "We played a heck of a hockey game. It could have gone either way. I thought we got better and better as the game went on. We did a lot of gritty good things in the third period. We deserved at least a point, and maybe two."

"It was a good hockey game," said Mike Knuble, who finished the afternoon with three points. "The timing of some of the calls at the end is absolutely mind-blowing. But, we have been on the flip side of that at times too."

The Flyers came back from a late two-goal deficit. Knuble scored on a power play goal on a one-timer from the slot at 17:24 with goaltender Antero Niittymaki pulled for an extra attacker.

Then, Knuble helped to set up the game-tying goal at 18:48 when he centered to Simon Gagne in the slot, Gagne shot on net, and Peter Forsberg was there to play the puck off of his skate and lift it in against his old team.

Philadelphia remains home for two games next week against Carolina on Tuesday and Boston on Thursday. Overall, five of the next six games are at the Wachovia Center.

Colorado had the only goal in the first period. On a power play, defenseman John-Michael Liles floated one into the top corner of the net with Milan Hejduk screening Niittymaki with about two minutes left.

Just 21 seconds into the second period, a three-on-two rush by the Avalanche resulted in a one-timer goal by Brett Clark as Colorado jumped ahead 2-0 on just its seventh shot of the game.

Philadelphia cut that lead to 2-1 with a power play goal of its own. Hitchcock put the line of Forsberg, Gagne and Knuble out for most of the two minutes, and Johnsson scored with just one second left on the man advantage. He got free in the high slot and took a nice backhanded feed from the corner by Gagne for a blast past David Aebischer at 11:11.

"The line was outstanding. They were a threat every time they were on the ice," said Hitchcock. "Every time we needed to mount a mental or emotional comeback they did it. I don't think anybody on their team could control them in the 3rd period. They were a threat every shift."

The Flyers' penalty-killing unit was put to the test the rest of the period. With Branko Radivojevic and Donald Brashear in the box, Philadelphia fought off a full two-minute two-man advantage by Colorado, ending with saves by Niittymaki on a blast by Rob Blake and then a stop on Tanguay alone at the side of the net.

Niittymaki made 30 saves in a losing effort, including stopping eight in overtime as the Avalanche recorded all nine shots. Aebischer stopped 27 shots as Colorado won for the seventh straight game.

Later, Turner Stevenson was whistled for a brutal boarding call, despite clearly hitting Karlis Skrastins from the side in the corner. The Colorado power play spilled over into the beginning of the third period, but it remained a 2-1 game early in the final frame.

Antti Laaksonen's rebound goal at 5:27 of the third gave the Avalanche a 3-1 lead.

Forsberg and Gagne both reached milestones in the game. With an assist on the Knuble goal, Forsberg recorded his 800th point in the NHL. Gagne's assist on Forsberg's goal was his 300th career point.

Jon Sim and Dennis Seidenberg were scratched, while Turner Stevenson returned to the Flyers lineup after missing the last 17 games with a right hip flexor. To make room for Stevenson, Ben Eager was reassigned to the Phantoms. … The Flyers honored the 1975-76 Flyers team, which defeated the Soviet Red Army 30 years ago. Several members of that team were in attendance. … Sylvester Stallone was in attendance, and was recognized from the zamboni tunnel in the third period wearing a black Flyers jersey with the name "Balboa" on the back. … The Flyers returned home for the first time since December 22 from an 11-game road trip in which they broke the NHL record for wins (8-2-1) and points (17). … Philadelphia is 13-5-4 at home this season.
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