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Flyers 3, Hurricanes 2, SO @NHLdotcom

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Philadelphia Flyers were less than a second away from a tough defeat that would've caused even more panic among fans hoping for a major deal hours before the trade deadline.

Freddy Meyer delayed the misery and Simon Gagne sent them home thrilled.

Gagne scored in a sudden-death shootout after Meyer tied it with 0.2 seconds left in regulation, leading the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the league-leading Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

Peter Forsberg scored to force sudden death and R.J. Umberger had a goal in regulation for Philadelphia, which has won consecutive games in shootouts following a four-game losing streak.

"It was a great win for us against one of the best teams right now," Gagne said. "We need these points. Winning at home is huge for us. We haven't really had a good stretch at home the last few games."

The Flyers, who led the NHL in mid-January, closed within one point of the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers, who lost in a shootout to Atlanta.

Ray Whitney and Justin Williams scored for the Hurricanes, who had won five straight.

"That wasn't a good way to lose," Whitney said. "It's unfortunate they got somewhat of a scramble goal that was kind of lucky."

The Flyers finally got the puck out of their zone and pulled goaltender Antero Niittymaki for an extra skater with 22 seconds left in the third period after Carolina had controlled play.

With the clock winding down, Mike Rathje ripped a shot from the point that Meyer deflected past goalie Martin Gerber just before time expired.

"I got a stick on it and I think it went five-hole," Meyer said. "I knew there wasn't much time left when I was in front of the net so I knew that was going to be the last chance."

The goal fired up normally calm Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock, who walked up and down the bench slapping players on their backs.

Whitney scored on the first shot in the shootout, but Niittymaki stopped Matt Cullen and Williams. Mike Richards and Petr Nedved missed for the Flyers, but Forsberg - just like he did in a win against Montreal on Monday night - scored on a backhander to extend the shootout.

Niittymaki swiped the puck away from Eric Staal and Gagne flipped in a backhander to win it for the Flyers.

"I haven't had much success with shootouts so I was a little nervous," Gagne said. "Maybe next time will be a little smoother."

Niittymaki, the tournament MVP of the Olympics after he led Finland to the silver medal, kept Philadelphia in the game with some brilliant saves. He stopped Kevyn Adams on a short-handed breakaway and stoned Doug Weight on a breakaway after he came out of the penalty box in the second period.

Carolina had a two-man advantage for two minutes in the second, but couldn't score. But Whitney put them ahead 2-1 on his 12th goal with 2:25 left in the second.

Williams, who began his career in Philadelphia, gave Carolina a 1-0 lead early with his 21st goal. Umberger's power-play goal in the second tied it at 1.

"Right now it's about getting points," Hitchcock said. "We are trying to get this thing back on track and we have a lot of work to do. We know that and players know that. We are starting to build it back again and it's a good feeling."

The injury-depleted Flyers lost defenseman Derian Hatcher, the team captain, to a bruised right knee. Hitchcock said he wasn't concerned the injury was serious. Philadelphia also was without center Michal Handzus (shoulder) for the fifth consecutive game. Defensemen Kim Johnsson (concussion) and Chris Therien (head) remain out indefinitely, while former captain Keith Primeau (concussion) announced last week he'll sit out the rest of the season.

The Hurricanes played their second game since forward Erik Cole went down with a fractured vertebra. Cole, who is second on the team with 30 goals, will miss the rest of the regular season.

"We had a mess of chances to score and bury this game and we didn't," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.

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