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Philadelphia, PA – Freddy Meyer tied the game with less than a second left in regulation and Simon Gagne and Peter Forsberg scored in the shootout as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the NHL-leading Carolina Hurricanes at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday night, 3-2.
It was looking like Philadelphia would fall in regulation, but Mike Knuble managed to get the puck to Mike Rathje who was standing alone just inside the blue line. Rathje's low shot was deflected by the stick of Meyer and trickled over the goal like with six-tenths of a second left.
"I saw there wasn't much time left on the clock, so I decided to go to the net," said Meyer. "Rathje made a great shot to get it through, and I just got a stick on it. I thought Knuble might have batted it in, but I guess it went in on its own."
After a scoreless overtime in which the Flyers were forced to kill off 52 seconds of time on the power play by Carolina, the game went into the shootout.
Carolina's Ray Whitney scored the only goal through five shooters, and it was up to Forsberg to keep it alive. He went to his backhand for the second straight game and slid it across the line, while Eric Staal's attempt was poke-checked away by Antero Niittymaki.
Gagne, who was 0-for-4 in shootouts this season, also went to his backhand but lifted it over the shoulder of goaltender Martin Gerber to win it for the Flyers, who improved to 4-5 in shootouts.
"You need to get a couple moves in your head," said Gagne of how he approaches the shootout. "The move I did was the first in move in my mind."
"We talked about fighting right to the end. We did, and got two points," said Ken Hitchcock. "We are trying to get this thing back on track and we have a lot of work to do. We know that and the players know that. When you get games like Montreal and games like this you just build it one block at a time. We are starting to build it back again and it's a good feeling."
Special teams allowed the Flyers to tie the game in the second period, but Carolina managed to retake a one-goal lead at the intermission.
After a double minor for high-sticking to Frantisek Kaberle, Philadelphia went on the power play. R.J. Umberger scored his second goal in as many games, slamming home the rebound of a shot by Mike Richards at 6:42 during the first half of the double minor. Gagne had a great chance to give Philadelphia the lead on the back end of the advantage, but Gerber denied his shot from the side of the net as well as the rebound attempt.
After three consecutive minors to the Flyers in a span of just 50 seconds, including two for delay of the game, the Hurricanes went on an extended power play of their own. Philadelphia killed it off, however, maintaining the 1-1 tie.
The Flyers were 7-for-7 on the penalty kill and 1-for-4 on the power play.
"During the five-on-three we did an outstanding job. We stayed compact. If they were going to beat us they were going to have to shoot it," said Hitchcock.
A one-timer by Whitney in the slot with 2:25 left in the second period put the Hurricanes back in front.
Niittymaki kept the Flyers in the game early after numerous odd-man rushes by the speeding Hurricanes. On a two-on-none break, Niittymaki stoned Craig Adams with just over three minutes left in the period, and on the next faceoff in the Flyers' end, gloved an attempt by Justin Williams on a two-on-one rush.
Niittymaki could not stop the former Flyer earlier in the frame, however, when Williams knocked in the rebound of a shot by Rod Brind'amour on a three-on-one at 3:17.
He finished the night with 29 saves while Gerber had 33.
Philadelphia is now one point behind the Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division. New York fell to Atlanta in a shootout.
"It was a great win for us against one of the best teams in the league right now; maybe the best team," said Gagne. "We need these points."
Philadelphia hosts the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon at the Wachovia Center before beginning a four-game road trip in Pittsburgh on Sunday.FLYERS NOTES
Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher left the game with a right knee bruise and did not return. … Michal Handzus, Kim Johnsson and Chris Therien all remained out of the lineup. … Sixers public address announcer and WMMR personality Matt Cord filled in for Lou Nolan. … The Flyers are now 6-4-2 in orange third jerseys this season. … Ken Hitchcock won his 120th game as a head coach for Philadelphia, passing Bob McCammon for fourth place on the franchise's all-time list.