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Marathon Shootout Ends With Rangers Victory

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

(Philadelphia, PA, October 7, 2006) – Marcel Hossa scored in a shootout after the first 25 players failed to score, as the New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Saturday night in the Flyers' home opener, 5-4.

Goaltender Antero Niittymaki denied the first 12 shots he faced and Henrik Lundqvist did not allow a goal on all 13 Flyers attempts, before Hossa was able to win the game for New York on the 26th shot.

"It was fun, just too bad we lost," said Niittymaki. "It was a good show for the fans."

Despite the loss, Ken Hitchcock was pleased with the teams' effort.

"We got out of that first period in good shape and we did a really good job in a lot of areas today," he said. "We deserved a much better fate."

The game was the first of eight between the Flyers and Rangers this season, with the next coming on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m., Versus).

With the Rangers leading 3-2 in the second period, Philadelphia responded with a couple of goals to take the lead before the intermission.

First, it was Geoff Sanderson on the power play, finding daylight behind Lundqvist with R.J. Umberger in front of the Rangers' goaltender at 15:54.

Simon Gagne's second goal of the game with 90 seconds left made it 4-3, when he found a bouncing puck, cut to the slot, and fired a wrist shot over the glove hand of Lundqvist. The lead did not last, however, and the Rangers tied the game in the third period when Adam Hall's rebound attempt deflected off of Randy Robitaille and across the goal line at 8:33.

"I thought we played very well tonight," said Gagne. "We had a lot of shots again and found a way to score goals, and I think it was a fun game to play in.

"We're going on the right track and want to build on [this]."

The Rangers jumped out to an early lead, as Jaromir Jagr controlled the puck in the Flyers' zone and found Marek Malik. Malik threw one on net and Michael Nylander was there to knock in the rebound just 42 seconds into the game.

Special teams was the name of the game the rest of the period, after four straight Flyers penalties gave the Rangers an extended power play, including over two minutes with a two-man advantage, but they were unable to beat Niittymaki again.

Philadelphia took the lead when Peter Forsberg tallied the first goal of the season on the power play midway through the period after a strong move to the net by Mike Knuble. Gagne made it 2-1 when he beat Lundqvist from the faceoff circle on a nice feed from the point by Joni Pitkanen.

Pitkanen finished the night with three assists.

The Flyers ended the night 2-for-9 on the power play and killed off all six Rangers power plays. Philadelphia has yet to allow a power play goal this season.

Michal Rozsival tied the game for New York at 3:55 of the middle frame, before a bad bounce for the Flyers gave the Rangers back the lead. Thomas Pock attempted to wrap the puck around the boards, and as Niittymaki went behind the net to play it, it bounced out in front and Mark Cullen easily knocked it into the open net at 7:14.

Niittymaki stopped 26 Rangers shots in his first game of the season, while Lundqvist made 35 saves for New York.

"Our goaltender played really well tonight and we still ended up giving up four goals, two of them being fluky," said Hitchcock.

Niko Dimitrakos and Riley Cote did not play, while defenseman Mike Rathje missed his first game with a herniated disc in his back. Rathje is out indefinitely. Denis Gauthier made his season debut, after missing the first game of the season with a head injury. The Flyers and Rangers split their season series last year, with each team going 4-2-2. Please note if you plan on watching the game on Tuesday, Versus is the channel formerly known as OLN. The Flyers fell to 22-12-5 all-time in their home openers.
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