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Niittymaki Shuts Door on Boston

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Boston, MA – Antero Niittymaki made 27 saves and Jeff Carter scored the only goal of the game as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Boston Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden, 1-0.

After a scoreless first period, Philadelphia struck with the only goal of the game. R.J. Umberger made a nifty pass to Carter charging the goal, going through the legs of defenseman Brad Stuart. Carter skated alone in on Hannu Toivonen and beat the Finnish goaltender going from his forehand to his backhand and finding the five-hole at 6:25 for his 10th of the season and second in as many games.

"It was a great play by R.J. I didn't even think he was going to be able to get it through there," said Carter. "He slid it right between the guys legs, and we knew that Toivonen is a big goalie and he goes down a lot and the five-hole opens up, so that's what I was looking for."

"When I come down the left side I look to feed it through like that. I've probably practiced that play 100 times, and it worked out," said Umberger.

The line of Carter, Umberger and Ben Eager was Philadelphia's best trio of the afternoon. The three spent time together with the Philadelphia Phantoms last season after Carter came along in time for the playoffs, helping them to the Calder Cup.

"Last year we got some chemistry together, and now R.J. and myself have been together for awhile now [on the Flyers]," said Carter. "It's starting to go pretty good."

"I guess we're just a bunch of young guys that have a lot of energy out there," added Umberger. "I think that's what [Hitchcock] wants to see from us is that energy, as long as we don't make any mistakes and have a little offensive spark."

Niittymaki, making his 10th consecutive start in net, recorded his second shutout of the season. He stopped Brad Boyes in the slot with 12:40 remaining in the game, and then sticked away another attempt by Boyes after he stole the puck from Freddy Meyer and raced in on net later in the period.

The Flyers improved to 5-0-1 on their 11-game road trip, and also played in their eighth straight one-goal game (6-0-2).

"Teams are absolutely desperate for points right now," said Ken Hitchcock. "We talked to our players and it's going to be really hard to win on the road now in the second half of the schedule, and to get these points now is really rewarding."

Boston outshot the Flyers 10-3 in the final 20 minutes, but could not capitalize. Chris Therien's high-stick at 16:51 gave the Bruins a power play, but the struggling club failed to produce any quality scoring chances.

The first period ended without a goal, as Niittymaki was helped out by a couple of posts. Former Flyer Alex Zhamnov, who has just one goal on the season, hit the post on a Boston power play, while Boyes ripped one off of the cross bar in the closing seconds after Patrice Bergeron stripped Peter Forsberg of the puck in the Flyers' zone and passed it to Boyes in the high slot.

"When you're playing [well], you're lucky sometimes, too," said Niittymaki.

Earlier in the period, Niittymaki stopped Bergeron from point-blank range to keep the game scoreless.

Boston had a great chance to tie when Sergei Samsonov was alone in front of an open net, but a pass from Boyes just missed Boston's leading goal scorer.

The Flyers return home on Monday night before leaving for New York to face the Rangers on Thursday night.

Jon Sim was a healthy scratch as Simon Gagne returned to the lineup after missing last game with the flu. … This was the third of four meetings between the Bruins and Flyers this season. Philadelphia won both of those games; 4-3 on November 8 and 5-3 on November 25. The teams meet once more in Philadelphia on January 19. … The Flyers are 12-3-3 on the road this season. …The Bruins opened a seven-game homestand. ... Chris Therien played his 741st game, tying Bob Kelly and Rick MacLeish for fifth all-time with the Flyers.
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