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Flyers Topple Rangers for First Win of the Season

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
(New York, NY, October 10, 2006) – Peter Forsberg had a goal and two assists and the Flyers scored three unanswered goals in the second period as they defeated the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, 4-2.

It was Philadelphia's first win of the season after a loss in Pittsburgh and a shootout loss to the Rangers at the Wachovia Center on Saturday.

"We're moving the puck better and we're in sync with each other," said Ken Hitchcock. "We're playing well right now."

With the game tied 1-1 after the first period, Mike Knuble's first goal of the season gave the Flyers a lead they would not relinquish when he skated the puck towards the crease, made a move put a backhand between the legs of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at 6:59 of the second period.

Just 59 seconds later, Geoff Sanderson got his second in as many games on a blast from the faceoff circle on a two-on-one rush with Kyle Calder that beat Lundqvist to the far side.

Philadelphia tallied its third straight goal of the period when Forsberg fed Simon Gagne in front of the net for an easy tap-in on a two-man advantage with 7:35 left in the period for Gagne's third goal of the season.

The line of Forsberg, Knuble and Gagne finished with seven points on the night.

"When we're playing right, it just seems so easy sometimes," said Knuble. "When we're working together and working smart, and not leaving each other out to dry, it's fun and it's easy and we all benefit."

A power play goal on a blast by Brendan Shanahan, the 601st of his career, came with 29 seconds left in the frame and made it a 4-2 game at the intermission. It was New York's first power play goal of the season after beginning the season 0-for-13, and was also the first power play goal allowed by Philadelphia, which had killed off its first 14 opponent man advantages.

Penalty killing was key for Philadelphia in the third period, as penalties to Forsberg and Niko Dimitrakos early on gave the Rangers the advantage. Antero Niittymaki was the best penalty killer of all, as he stopped Jaromir Jagr with a right pad save and then again on Jagr at the side of the net with Forsberg in the box. Later, with Dimitrakos serving a holding penalty, Niittymaki smothered a blast from the circle by Shanahan while defenseman Denis Gauthier was without a stick, halting play.

The Flyers finished 1-for-5 on the power play and killed off 7-of-8 Rangers power plays.

The penalty-killing unit, which struggled during stretches last season, has been excellent so far through the first three games.

"You have to have people who are committed and determined to do the job," said Hitchcock. "It took us awhile to get going last year for getting people to buy in, but we're bought in right now."

Niittymaki, making his second consecutive start, finished the night with 25 saves. Lundqvist stopped 20 Flyers shots in a losing effort.

"I thought overall we didn't give up a whole lot of [quality] shots, and when they got the shots we played the rebounds and Niittymaki was good," said Forsberg. "It's great [to get the first win], especially here and especially on the road."

"We've been playing better and better every game, and we deserved two points," added Niittymaki."

The Flyers return home for a game on Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center against the Montreal Canadiens(7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). The team begins a four-game road trip on Saturday in New Jersey.

Randy Robitaille and Riley Cote were the scratches for Philadelphia. The Flyers are now 1-0-1 against New York this season, with the next matchup between the two clubs coming on December 12 at the Wachovia Center. The Flyers outshot the Rangers 10-2 in the first period. The Flyers avoided losing their first three games at the start of the season for the first time since 1994-95.
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