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Knuble Scores Late as Flyers Win 5-4

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia, PA – Mike Knuble scored a shorthanded goal with 3.2 seconds remaining in regulation as the Flyers won their ninth straight home game and sixth overall, 5-4 over the Florida Panthers.

With Joni Pitkanen in the penalty box on a hooking call, the Panthers' Lukas Krajicek took a slap shot on net that was stopped by Robert Esche. Esche flipped the puck ahead to Michal Handzus, who skated into the Panthers zone and gave it to Knuble along the boards. Knuble's slap shot found the far corner of the net for his second goal of the game to give Philadelphia the win.

"Michal made a great play to tie up the defenseman," said Knuble. "I kind of scooped it up, and it was one of those where you just pound it on goal. I think it popped up a little bit as I was releasing it and it kind of took off on me and went right up in the [corner]. It was one of the timeliest goals of my NHL career."

Knuble, who also scored in the first period, was robbed of the potential game-winner with 3:56 left in the third period. He managed to whack in a loose puck that was clearly never frozen by Panthers goalie Jamie McLennan, but the referees ruled that the play was dead.

"The puck was still loose, and I think the video replay would show that out," said Knuble. "I guess it was karma a little bit."

Philadelphia swept its longest homestand of the season, winning all five games.

"It's a good sign, but we have to play better for all 60 minutes," said Peter Forsberg. "But, with 10 points out of 10; we can't complain about that."

The Flyers jumped out to an early lead. First, Simon Gagne won a footrace to the puck with Florida's Alexander Karpovtsev and backhanded the puck past McLennan just 57 seconds into the game for his league-leading 17th of the season.

Knuble lit the lamp at 2:58 after Forsberg skated around Krajicek and fed a pass to the right wing beside the net.

Florida responded with two goals of its own to tie the game. Kristian Huselius tapped in a pass through the slot by Chris Gratton at 7:58 and then at 9:15 Gary Roberts blasted a slap shot from the faceoff circle past Esche.

Jeff Carter gave the Flyers back the lead before the intermission, when he skated in on a two-on-one shorthanded rush with Gagne and took the shot himself at 13:45.

Florida kept fighting back, however, and tied the game early in the second period when the Flyers defense lost track of Martin Gelinas. He was able to get just enough of the puck on a pass through the slot by Stephen Weiss at 2:14 to make it a 3-3 game.

Pitkanen made it a 4-3 game at 5:06 of the middle frame with a slap shot from the point on the power play, but the Panthers responded once again at 5:06 when Niklas Hagman scored at 12:50.

Esche made 26 saves in winning his sixth straight start.

"We had a couple breakdowns and they ended up in the net, but we battled through the whole game and it paid off in the end," said Esche, who picked up an assist on the game-winning goal.

The Flyers travel to Tampa Bay to play the Lightning on Monday night before returning for two home games on Wednesday against Pittsburgh and Friday against Atlanta.

The Flyers beat Florida 5-4 in overtime on Oct. 27 at the Wachovia Center in the teams' first meeting. … Philadelphia leads the league in shorthanded goals with seven … The Flyers were 1-for-5 on the power play and killed off all five Florida opportunities.
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