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Third Period Goal by Richards Leads Flyers to Win

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

(Philadelphia, PA, November 24) – Mike Richards broke a 2-2 third period tie to give the Flyers a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Wachovia Center on Friday afternoon.

Joni Pitkanen spotted Richards open in the faceoff circle, and Richards' one-timer got through goaltender Pascal LeClaire at 2:02.

With the goal, Richards ended a personal 40-game regular season scoring drought dating back to March 11.

"It was great to see Mike Richards get a goal," said John Stevens. "He is a kid who I think will be a great player down the road. I think you're going to see him put up offensive numbers, and it is his character that allows him to contribute in other areas when he is not scoring."

"It was nice to get it out of the way and to contribute to the teams' win today," said Richards. "It was definitely frustrating."

The Flyers ended their franchise record six-game home losing streak.

"Obviously, any win right now is much needed for our hockey team," said Stevens.

Antero Niittymaki made 39 saves to record the win in net, as Columbus had 41 shots on goal compared to 22 for Philadelphia.

The Blue Jackets outshot the Flyers 19-7 in the second period and scored twice to make it a 2-2 game after 40 minutes.

They tied the game at 1-1 when Jason Chimera got the rebound of a deflected shot by Gilbert Brule at 7:29. Chimera was stopped earlier in the period on a two-on-one shorthanded rush.

Philadelphia responded with Freddy Meyer's second goal in as many games, when the Flyers defenseman snuck towards the net from the point and slapped in a perfect feed from the corner by Mike Knuble at 18:08.

A hooking call to Pitkanen led to Rick Nash's seventh goal of the season, when a shot by Sergei Fedorov went wide of the and Nash was in front of Mike Rathje to lift it in with just 19 seconds left in the period.

Philadelphia got on the board first on a power play goal by Peter Forsberg. Lars Jonsson sent a wrist shot towards the net from the top of the circle and Forsberg got a piece of it to deflect it past LeClaire midway through the frame for the only goal of the period.

Forsberg, who it was originally thought would not play, returned to the lineup after missing the last game with a stiff lower back. His right skate problems have been well documented as of late, and he finished the game with a goal and an assist.

"It felt better today. I don't want to talk about it anymore," said Forsberg. "There has been a lot written about it, I'm just going to forget about it now and play hockey. I'm putting it behind me and playing well from now on."

Columbus had 1:34 on a two-man advantage later in the first after hooking calls to Kyle Calder and Derian Hatcher but could not convert, as Niittymaki made a couple of saves on slap shots by Fedorov.

Philadelphia's power play, which entered the game seven for its last 21, finished 1-for-5. The Flyers killed five of six Columbus power plays.

Former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock made his debut for Columbus.

"Hitch and I are good friends and I have a lot of respect for him," said Stevens. "I am happy that he is back in the game and wish him nothing but good luck in Columbus."

Philadelphia plays the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night at the Bell Centre (7:00 p.m., CW-57, 610 WIP).

Eric Meloche and Boyd Kane were healthy scratches for the Flyers. … Derian Hatcher played in his 100th game as a Flyer. … Geoff Sanderson's seven-game point streak came to an end. … Flyers improved to 4-0-3 against Columbus all-time. ... Jonsson was reassigned to the Phantoms following the game.
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