PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Simon Gagne wasn't the first choice to shoot a penalty
shot for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was the right one, though.
Gagne scored on a penalty shot with 1:01 left, leading the Flyers to a 5-4
victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday.
Gagne was awarded a penalty shot after Thrashers defenseman Andy Sutton shot
a loose stick on the ice toward him while he was skating near the boards with
the puck. He broke in on goaltender Pasi Nurminen, faked to his left and lifted
a backhander in for his 17th goal.
Alexei Zhamnov, playing his first game with the Flyers, skated around the
puck, waiting for the officials to finish reviewing the play so he could take
the shot. But Gagne had to take it because the loose stick came at him.
``I didn't have too much time to think about it because I wasn't supposed to
take the shot,'' Gagne said. ``I just tried to make sure the puck was flat,
that it didn't roll on my stick and I waited for him to give me an opening.''
Nurminen thought Gagne would try a forehand shot.
``The last game he went to a breakaway and went to the blocker side and I
kind of had him there,'' Nurminen said. ``I thought he was going to that side
again. He shot it so high I couldn't reach it.''
The Flyers, who entered tied with Toronto for first place in the Eastern
Conference, snapped a three-game losing streak.
Serge Aubin, Sutton, Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for Atlanta,
which had won three of four after a 10-game winless streak. The Thrashers went
3-4 on a seven-game road trip that tied for the longest in team history.
``The referee made the right call,'' Sutton said of the penalty shot. ``It's
just unfortunate it cost us the game. I just felt the stick shouldn't have sat
there for so long. I just shot it ahead and it happened to hit the puck.''
Joni Pitkanen scored two power-play goals around one by Michal Handzus in a
span of 2:42 in the first period, but Philadelphia couldn't hold leads of 3-0
and 4-3. Marcus Ragnarsson also scored for the Flyers.
Sean Burke made 32 saves for his third win since coming to Philadelphia.
Burke, who has allowed 18 goals in the last four games, was booed at the start
of the game and several times throughout.
Burke has started six straight games since replacing rookie Antero
Niittymaki, who allowed just three goals in his only three games _ all wins.
Starter Robert Esche is due to return soon from a knee injury.
``I'm not going to let it affect me or distract me,'' Burke said of the
Kovalchuk tied it at 4 just 3:15 into the third. He got the rebound of his
own shot and wristed it past Burke for his 33rd goal.
Ragnarsson gave the Flyers a 4-3 lead in the second period when he took
Branko Radivojevic's pass from behind the net and one-timed it over Nurminen's
glove for his fourth goal.
The Flyers took advantage of a five-minute major on Ronald Petrovicky midway
through the first period by scoring three times. Petrovicky received a game
misconduct for charging Philadelphia's Mattias Timander into the boards. It was
the third time in team history the Flyers scored three goals on the same
five-minute power play.
But the Thrashers scored three goals in a span of 5:59 in the second period
to tie it.