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Philadelphia, PA – After surrendering a two-goal lead in the third period, the Philadelphia Flyers lost in a shootout to the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wachovia Center on Tuesday night, 4-3.
With the shootout tied at two goals each, Carolina's Rod Brind'amour beat Antero Niittymaki to give the Hurricanes the lead in their fourth shot. Jeff Carter, who scored in regulation, was stopped on his attempt as the Flyers lost their third straight game while Carolina won its eighth straight to take over sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
"We played very hard today and we played very well," said Ken Hitchcock. "But what we didn't do was protect the puck when the game was on the line and that is disappointing."
Philadelphia led 1-0 entering the third period. A goal Kim Johnsson on a great setup by Michal Handzus gave the Flyers a two-goal cushion. After defenseman Bret Hedican turned the puck over to Handzus, the Flyers center passed through the slot to Johnsson, who then lifted the puck above Martin Gerber at 3:19.
A goal just 21 seconds later by Carolina's Matt Cullen made it a 2-1 game. Cullen skated the puck into the zone along the boards, cut to the middle and fired a wrist shot through traffic past Niittymaki.
Philadelphia did not take long to get its two-goal cushion back when a wrist shot by Freddy Meyer from the point made it to the top corner after Brian Savage got the puck to Meyer from the corner. Once again, however, Carolina came back with a goal by Oleg Tverdovsky at 8:01 after a pass by Eric Staal bounced off of the skates of Handzus and right to the stick of the defenseman.
A breakaway goal by Erik Cole with 3:58 left, after he got between Johnsson and Randy Jones, sent the game into overtime.
"It's very disappointing. It is not the way we need to play," said Carter. "Every game is getting tougher and every game has been closer. I think we made to many mistakes in that third period."
Peter Forsberg was forced to leave the game after the second period with a mild left groin strain.
"It shouldn't be that bad. I don't think it is a tear or anything like that," said Forsberg. "It's just very stiff and it just got worse and that's why I decided not to play in the third period."
Forsberg was forced to miss six games earlier in the year with a groin injury to his right side.
The Flyers outshot the Hurricanes 8-2 in the first period, as Carolina did not register a shot on goal until there was 2:17 left. Philadelphia also had a couple of good scoring chances. First, Mike Knuble appeared to open the scoring when he knocked a rebound out of mid air and into the net, but a length review by the officials determined that the puck was hit in with a high stick.
Gerber made an excellent save on a breakaway by Gagne at 13:46, doing the splits and getting his right pad on top of the puck after a move by the Flyers' leading goal-scorer. Gagne was thwarted on another breakaway attempt with three minutes left in the second period as well, as Gerber stopped him this time with his left pad while getting a little help from the post.
A late penalty in the first period to Staal coupled with a tripping call on Niclas Wallin in the first minute of the second period gave the Flyers a two-man advantage for 64 seconds, but they were unable to solve Gerber.
Philadelphia was finally able to put one past Gerber with 7:23 left in the second period. Carter took a pass from Chris Therien at the blue line and skated past defenseman Frantisek Kaberle before going to his backhand for his 11th goal of the season.
Therien was playing in his 746th game as a Flyer, moving into a tie for fourth all-time in franchise history with Joe Watson.
Philadelphia remains home on Thursday to face the Boston Bruins (7:00 p.m., CSN).FLYERS NOTES
This was the third of four meetings between the Flyers and Hurricanes this season. They split the first two matchups, both in Carolina, and the final game of the season series will be at the Wachovia Center on March 8. … The Flyers have still not lost two straight games in regulation this season. … Philadelphia dropped to 16-3-4 when leading after two periods and is now 2-4 in games decided by a shootout. … Handzus and Mike Richards scored the other shootout goals for Philadelphia, while Ray Whitney and Matt Cullen also scored for Carolina. … Jon Sim and Dennis Seidenberg were healthy scratches for the Flyers.