(Philadelphia, PA, November 29) – R.J. Umberger tied the game in the third period but Martin Erat gave Nashville back the lead as the Predators defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday night, 3-2.
Trailing 2-1 after two periods, Randy Robitaille found Umberger open between the circles. Umberger's backhand got through goaltender Chris Mason with 6:18 left to tie the game.
A turnover by Mike Rathje deep in the Flyers' zone, however, led to the game-winning goal. Paul Kariya picked up the loose puck and quickly passed through the slot to Erat, who beat Antero Niittymaki with 5:09 left in the game.
Niittymaki did his best to keep the Flyers in the game with two key saves while the Flyers trailed 2-1, stopping a quick turnaround shot by Alexander Radulov as well as the rebound with his right pad on an attempt by Scott Nichol. He finished the night with 26 saves.
Mason picked up the win stopping 24 Flyers shots.
Philadelphia's two-game winning streak came to an end. Still, Stevens was happy with his team's effort against one of the hottest teams in the league.
"We did play a good game and I kind of have this feeling right now that we can play with anybody," said Stevens. "We don't go into games fearing our opponent right now. We feel like we can go in there, play a strong team game and expect to win a hockey game. But, if we want to win games we have to clean up those types of things not beat ourselves."
"We are in a deep hole but we just have to keep playing better," said Peter Forsberg. "I think we are playing pretty decent right now and we have to keep playing the same way and try to get some points."
Philadelphia struck first on Mike Knuble's eighth goal of the season. Forsberg played the puck through defenseman Marek Zidlicky, poked it on net, and Knuble knocked in the rebound at 4:52.
Knuble agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Flyers earlier in the day.
Nashville evened the score before the break when Steve Sullivan got his own rebound and fired in a wrist shot from the circle at 13:32.
The Flyers had a couple of great scoring chances in the second period, but it was Nashville that took the lead.
Simon Gagne hit the post on a breakaway during a four-on-four situation, and moments later Mason stopped Geoff Sanderson alone at the side of the net.
"There is no question that we had our chances to score," said Stevens.
Radulov made Philadelphia pay for its missed opportunities, when he took a pass inside the blue line and skated untouched to the circle before lifting in a wrist shot at 6:18.
The teams traded posts after that, when Sanderson rang one off the iron on a redirection from the slot. Later, Kariya did the same with two minutes left with Nashville on the power play.
The Predators, after beginning the season with three straight losses, have been defeated just twice in regulation in their last 20 games.
"We had a real good effort, especially in the third period," said Knuble. "They kind of carried the game in the second period, but I think we can walk out of here pretty satisfied with the way we played. A lot of guys played hard and did a lot of good things out there."
Philadelphia plays the Islanders in New York on Thursday night (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 610 WIP).FLYERS NOTES
Joni Pitkanen missed the game with a sore left hip flexor. Alexandre Picard replaced Pitkanen in the lineup on defense. … Flyers defenseman Jussi Timonen played against his brother, Nashville captain Kimmo Timonen
. … Regular Nashville starter Tomas Vokoun is out with a hand injury for another four-to-five weeks. … Philadelphia fell to 6-3-2 when scoring the first goal of the game.