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Gagne's Goal Does in Rangers, 4-3

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

New York, NY – Simon Gagne scored just seven seconds into overtime to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

After a center ice faceoff win by Peter Forsberg, Gagne skated the puck into the offensive zone, past defenseman Michal Rozsival and found the five-hole of goaltender Kevin Weekes for his 28th of the season, which leads the league.

"It happened pretty quick," said Gagne. "It was right on the faceoff, and Peter kind of chipped it a little bit on my side and I had only one [defenseman] so I kind of chipped it behind him. The only angle I had was to just try to shoot it as hard as I can and it went five-hole."

Freddy Meyer and Kim Johnsson had a goal and an assist and Brian Savage scored as the Flyers improved to 6-0-1 on their franchise record 11-game road trip. With the win, Philadelphia now has a seven point lead on the Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division.

"We're on a long road trip here. We finished the first phase of it, and this is the second phase," said Ken Hitchcock. "We just wanted to start on off on a good foot and just keep going. We didn't play our best game tonight. The Rangers have a lot of players going well tonight, and we didn't play our best game tonight and we still won. That's a good growth sign for our team."

"It was definitely one of the keys on this road trip to get some points here against the Rangers," added Meyer.

Trailing 2-1 after the first, a couple of power play goals by the Flyers made it a 3-2 game after two periods. Johnsson netted one of the highlight reel goals of the season, when he skated the puck from behind the Flyers' net, through the entire Rangers defense and beat Weekes at 10:53.

"I kind of faked the pass to Peter and [New York's Jed Ortmeyer] went for it, and the whole middle just kind of opened up," explained Johnsson. "I had nothing else to do but just skate down the middle."

Savage found the rebound of a shot by Meyer at 14:06 to give Philadelphia its one-goal lead after 40 minutes.

Philadelphia finished 3-for-5 on the power play. New York entered the game with the best penalty-killing unit at home in the NHL at 92.4 percent.

New York tallied the only goal of the third period to send the game into overtime. Jaromir Jagr fought off R.J. Umberger and Derian Hatcher along the boards, and found Martin Straka cutting to the net. Straka's redirection from the slot with 5:07 left in regulation made it a 3-3 game.

Weekes kept it 3-3 with the save of the game, gloving a slap shot by Forsberg from the faceoff circle with 2:50 left.

Philadelphia opened the scoring thanks to Meyer. First, the rookie defenseman drew a boarding call on Martin Rucinsky early in the game, and then his slap shot on the power play at 2:42 found the back of the net for his second goal of the season.

New York controlled play for most of the rest of the period, outshooting the Flyers 18-9 over the first 20 minutes. They took a 2-1 lead on a breakaway goal by Straka at 11:01, as the Rangers' second-leading scorer got behind Mike Rathje before taking a pass at the blue line from Jagr.

Later, Petr Prucha scored his 19th goal of the season with 2:44 left in the frame on a one-timer from Rozsival.

The last nine Flyers games have all been decided by one goal, and the team is 7-0-2 over that span. Overall, Philadelphia is 17-2-6 in one-goal contests.

"I'd like to see someone else have the record we have with this group missing five, six, seven or up to nine key players," said Hitchcock. "These guys deserve a lot of credit. This is a team built on character right now and we know that there's people coming back in a couple of weeks that are going to really help us, but right now we just compete right to the end of the day. If you do that, good things happen."

Antero Niittymaki finished with 31 saves to record the win.

The Flyers continue their trip on Friday night in Washington for their second game in a week against the Capitals (7:00 p.m., CSN). The game will mark the midway point of the regular season for Philadelphia.

This was just the second of eight meetings between the Flyers and Rangers this season, with the next game on January 30 in New York. … Philadelphia is 11-0-2 in its last 12 road games and has not lost in regulation on the road since November 14 at Tampa Bay. … Turner Stevenson, Joni Pitkanen, Eric Desjardins, Robert Esche and Keith Primeau all remain out with injuries, while Jon Sim was a healthy scratch. … The Flyers have won four straight games at Madison Square Garden. … Sami Kapanen had two assists.
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