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Flyers Win in Chicago, 5-2

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers


Chicago, IL – Mike Knuble, Mike Richards and Branko Radivojevic all scored third period goals in leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-2 decision over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.

Knuble's goal with 8:33 left in regulation broke a 2-2 tie. Simon Gagne won a battle along the boards and got the puck to Michal Handzus for a quick slap shot. Knuble was in front to deposit the rebound for his 20th goal of the season.

Richards made it a two-goal cushion for Philadelphia when he picked off a pass in the neutral zone by Jim Vandermeer, skated in on net and beat goaltender Craig Anderson low to the far side at 13:35 for his first goal since December 3 at Nashville.

Radivojevic scored in an empty net in the final minute to seal the victory. Handzus finished the night with three assists.

"We looked after the second period and said it would be a shame to lose this game with all of the scoring chances we've had, but we stuck with it," said Ken Hitchcock.

"We're proud of our third period tonight. I think everybody that dressed for the game should be proud of our effort," said Knuble, who now has at least 20 goals in his last three seasons.

Philadelphia is now 8-1-1 on its 11-game road trip, with the final contest on Thursday night in Detroit against the Western Conference-leading Red Wings (7:30 p.m., CSN). The Flyers have not won in Detroit since 1988, but that doesn't matter to the current group.

"Well, that means nothing," said Knuble of the franchise's losing streak at Joe Louis Arena. "We're behind the eight ball a little bit coming off of a game the night before, but we've stood out in those situations all year and there's no reason we can't do it again."

Antero Niittymaki, who has started every game on the trip, made 12 saves in recording his 17th victory of the season. The 14 shots allowed by the Flyers is a new season low.

"Chicago's not the best team in the league, but if you don't play hard and get good goaltending, you never know how it is going to go," said Peter Forsberg.

The Flyers return home for the first time since December 22 on Saturday when they host the Colorado Avalanche at 2:00 p.m. at the Wachovia Center in the first broadcast of the season on NBC.

The Flyers, coming off of their first shutout loss in New Jersey on Monday, wasted little time in lighting the lamp. Ben Eager made a strong move to the crease from behind the net and took a shot that bounced around off of some bodies before going right back to Eager who lifted it in at 2:42 of the first period.

The Blackhawks tied the game when Radim Vrbata chipped the puck past Mike Rathje at the far blue line, charged down the ice and scored a wraparound goal at 5:29.

Chicago, which ended a 10-game losing streak the night before with an overtime win in Washington, would not get another shot on goal until there was 1:41 left in the frame.

R.J. Umberger had a wraparound goal of his own at 10:40 of the first period to give the Flyers back the lead after the first 20 minutes, as Umberger's shot went off of the stick of defenseman Andy Hilbert into the top corner of the net.

"The best part for me was that four of the goals were scored by people not on [Forsberg's] line. I think that's a great sign for us," said Hitchcock. "We talked this morning about some of the things we need to do as a team from an offensive standpoint and we did a lot of them today and that was a good sign."

"I think we challenged ourselves a bit to make sure that guys were chipping in at different times," said Knuble. "We want to make sure we have balance, and we had balance tonight. We have young guys chipping in and veteran guys as well."

Late in the first period, former Flyer Patrick Sharp and Radivojevic got into a shoving match in front of the Philadelphia bench. Both were given minor penalties.

It was the only penalty assessed to the Flyers, as the team went the entire game without being shorthanded. They finished 0-for-3 on the power play.

Chicago tied the game with the only goal of the second period, when Hilbert redirected a slap shot by Todd Simpson just over five minutes in.

FLYERS NOTES
Defenseman Chris Therien missed the game with a sore back, while Donald Brashear sat out due to a right quad strain. … Sami Kapanen returned from a sore right shoulder after missing Monday's game in New Jersey while Dennis Seidenberg was back on the blue line after missing the last two games with a left knee sprain. … The Flyers improved to 51-42-30 all-time against Chicago including five straight wins. This was the first and only meeting of the season between the Flyers and Blackhawks. … Philadelphia has not lost back-to-back games in regulation all season.
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