Detroit, MI – The Detroit Red Wings scored five times in the third period as the Philadelphia Flyers wrapped up their 11-game road swing with a 6-3 loss at Joe Louis Arena.
The Flyers finished their franchise record trip with an 8-2-1 record, setting a new NHL mark for the most wins on a single stretch of games away from home. Their 17 points on the trip is also a new league record, far surpassing the old mark of 13 points set by the 1968-69 Montreal Canadiens.
Still, they would have liked to end the journey on a better note in a city in which they have not won a game since 1988.
"I'm not going to make excuses and all, but maybe it was the timing of the game. We got in last night extremely late, and we've done extremely well in back-to-back games, but they overwhelmed us in the third," said Mike Knuble, referring to the team's 5-2 win in Chicago the night before. "They have a lot of firepower."
With the game tied 1-1 after 40 minutes, the Red Wings wasted little time in taking a two-goal lead in what turned out to be a wild third period. With the game tied 1-1, Chris Chelios scored shorthanded just 15 seconds into the period on a feed from Kris Draper after Flyers defenseman Freddy Meyer lost control of the puck behind the goal.
Just 31 seconds later, Pavel Datsyuk converted his second goal of the game on a give-and-go with Brendan Shanahan, going to his backhand to beat goaltender Antero Niittymaki at the 46-second mark.
The Flyers got one back when an innocent looking shot from the point by Dennis Seidenberg bounced around in front of the net and through Manny Legace at 4:06, but Henrik Zetterberg's goal gave Detroit back its two-goal cushion when he fired a shot from the corner off of the backside of Niittymaki at 8:37.
Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne hooked up for the second time in the game at 10:33 to make it 4-3. Forsberg shifted back and forth behind the net before finding Gagne to his right, and Gagne's sharp-angle shot beat Legace high to the short side.
The goals kept on coming when the Flyers lost track of Zetterberg and he snuck in towards the net to tap in a pass from Datsyuk at 11:09. Robert Lang's goal at 14:10 on a two-on-one rush with Steve Yzerman capped the scoring.
"I thought we played reasonably well for about 30 minutes, and then I thought we started to make poor decisions in the last half of the hockey game," said Ken Hitchcock. "Every mistake we made at the start of the third period they just turned into a goal."
Philadelphia finally returns to Wachovia Center to open a three-game homestand on Saturday afternoon when it hosts the Colorado Avalanche (2:00 p.m., NBC).
The first period was a scoreless one, despite the Flyers getting 7:35 of time on the power play. Philadelphia's best chance came shorthanded when Legace stopped Gagne on a shorthanded shot from the faceoff circle.
The Flyers appeared to take a 1-0 lead at 5:34 of the second period, but Brian Savage was called for a soft interference penalty on Mathieu Schneider as the two were battling for position in front of the net moments before sliding the puck into the net.
Although Philadelphia was able to kill off that penalty, it could not keep the Red Wings off of the board after an interference call on R.J. Umberger. Zetterberg's excellent pass through the slot found Datsuk for a one-timer at 13:20 in which Niittymaki had no chance.
"We thought Niitty kept us in it for two periods but [in the third period] he couldn't even help us," said Forsberg. "We had too many turnovers, and they made good plays too, but they had too many wide open chances."
Zetterberg finished the night with two goals and two assists to lead Detroit, which outshot the Flyers 41-20 in the contest. Datsyuk had a goal and an assist, while Shanahan recorded three helpers.
"You have to stay close to them and you can't give them anything, and you have to do it every time they are on the ice," said Forsberg of the Detroit trio.
Philadelphia ended its power play drought on Gagne's 30th goal of the season when Forsberg found him alone in the high slot on a three-on-three rush. Draper got caught in no man's land, allowing Gagne to take a wrist shot that found the top corner at 16:45 to tie the game at 1-1, which is where it stood after at the second intermission.
FLYERS NOTES Chris Therien and Donald Brashear both missed their second straight games with a sore back and right quad sprain, respectively. … Gagne, who is second in the league in goals, is just two shy of his career high of 33 set in 2001-02. … Philadelphia's last win in Detroit came on November 4, 1988. … Forsberg now has 799 career points in the NHL. … Yzerman registered his 1,050th assist in the NHL, moving him ahead of Gordie Howe for seventh all time in that category. … Knuble had two assists.