Philadelphia, PA – After a scoreless regulation and overtime, Mike Richards scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 1-0 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Wachovia Center.
After Antero Niittymaki stopped Kristian Huselius on the first attempt by the Flames, Richards had Philadelphia's first try. He found the five-hole of Miikka Kiprusoff for the eventual game-winning goal, and Niittymaki then stopped Jarome Iginla and Tony Amonte to give the Flyers their first shootout win in franchise history.
It was the first game in the NHL to go to a shootout in a scoreless tie, but the game certainly did not lack excitement.
In a wild overtime, Philadelphia had to kill a hooking penalty to Mike Knuble to preserve the tie. The Flyers did just that, and Knuble later had a breakaway in the extra session that was stopped by Kiprusoff. Philadelphia also had to kill a hooking call to Derian Hatcher at 17:16 of the third period in order to send the game into overtime.
The Flyers killed off all six of Calgary's power plays, and were 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
Philadelphia also had several great scoring chances in the third period, but Kiprusoff made some key saves. He stopped a rebound attempt by Sami Kapanen in the slot with an incredible glove save, getting just enough of the puck to deflect it away, and later got his waffle board on a quick shot by Jeff Carter from between the circles.
Simon Gagne also had a breakaway in the third period, but the only result was a hooking call to Roman Hamrlik at 16:20.
"There was a ton of scoring chances on both sides. Both goalies were outstanding," said Ken Hitchcock of Niittymaki and Kiprusoff. "You've got two countrymen going at it and neither guy really blinked until we got into [overtime] at the end there."
"I think their only good chances came on breakaways and the power play they had a couple chances," said Niittymaki, who registered the first shutout of the season for Philadelphia with 28 saves. "I think we played a solid defensive game."
It was the Flyers' second straight shootout, as they lost in Nashville on Saturday.
In the first period, Niittymaki stopped Daymond Langkow on a breakaway in the opening minute of the game. The Flyers had a great chance of their own when a wrist shot by Carter deflected off of two posts after Jon Sim won a battle for the puck in the corner with about six minutes left in the period.
Early in the second period, Gagne went hard into the end boards after a hit from Robyn Regehr, who was whistled for boarding. Gagne got right to his feet and went after Regehr, resulting in a double minor for roughing on the Flyers' leading goal scorer.
On the resulting power play, Hamrlik hit the post with a blast, and then later Branko Radivojevic did the same with the Flyers shorthanded.
Kiprusoff kept the Flyers off of the board for the rest of the period, at one point stopping a point-blank redirection attempt by Richards on a feed from Knuble. Gagne had a great chance to put the Flyers ahead late in the frame, skating the puck into the zone on a three-on-two rush but his shot was stopped, as was his rebound attempt that bounced into the slot, which was deflected away.
"He is a great goaltender, and played really well for them," said Richards of Kiprusoff. "Both goaltenders played really well, both teams had a lot of chances it was really back and forth."
The Flyers remain at home on Thursday against the Edmonton Oliers at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday at 2:00 p.m. as they host the Minnesota Wild.
FLYERS NOTES Matt Ellison made his Flyers debut after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks a day earlier. â€¦ Eric Desjardins left the game in the first period and did not return due to a subluxation of his right shoulder. â€¦ Both starting goaltenders are from the same hometown of Turku, Finland. â€¦ Freddy Meyer played in his second career NHL game after being recalled earlier in the day.