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Flyers rally to beat Islanders 4-3

by John Kreiser
The way the Philadelphia Flyers are playing at home, a little thing like an early two-goal deficit is just a minor obstacle.

The Flyers spotted the New York Islanders a 2-0 lead, then rallied for a 4-3 victory Tuesday night to extend their unbeaten streak in regulation at the Wachovia Center to 5-0-2. Simon Gagne's power-play goal at 11:08 of the third period broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Flyers their third win over the Isles in as many meetings this season.

Just 11 seconds after Brendan Witt was sent off for interference, Mike Richards controlled the puck behind the Isles net and passed to Gagne, who took a slap shot — a rarity for him — and beat backup goaltender Yann Danis to put Philadelphia ahead to stay.

"I had a lot of time, and as a player you like when you get a chance to get a slap shot," Gagne said. "It was a nice play by Richie. I was walking in with my speed, and when you get a chance like that, your shot is going to come pretty hard at the net. I was able to find a little bit of space on the glove side."

Danis said Gagne simply made a good shot.

''I was at the top of my crease and had a good look at it, but it just beat me,'' he said.

Martin Biron made 24 saves to beat the Islanders for the ninth consecutive time, dating back to last season. The Islanders lost their fourth in a row and sixth in their last seven.

The injury- and illness-plagued Islanders came out strong and grabbed a quick 2-0 lead. Andy Hilbert redirected Chris Campoli's power-play shot past Biron at 9:23, and Doug Weight beat Philadelphia's defense to a rebound and swatted it into the net 61 seconds later.

But before the crowd of 19,037 could get really nervous, the Flyers got a jolt of engery from their fourth line when ex-Islander Arron Asham beat Danis with a one-timer from the slot at 11:55 for his second goal of the season and first in 15 games.

"I think our fourth line, all year, has been tremendous," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "They get pucks deep, they spent time on the cycle, and it's great to see them get rewarded. They work so hard and do so many good things that aren't necessarily measurable on the stat sheet."


Philadelphia tied it 8:09 into the second period when Darroll Powe scored his first NHL goal by hammering the rebound of Mike Richards' shot past Danis. Jeff Carter's 20th goal of the season, off another rebound, put Philadelphia ahead at 16:02. Carter became the second player this season to reach 20 goals and tied Buffalo's Thomas Vanek for the League lead.

Blake Comeau pulled the Isles even 2:17 into the third period when his shot from the right circle hit defenseman Lasse Kukkonen's stick, changed speeds and oozed between Biron's pads for his first goal since being recalled from the minors last week.

The Flyers improved to 10-1-3 in their last 14 games and are now tied with Pittsburgh for second place in the Atlantic Division, four points behind the New York Rangers. The cross-state rivals face off against one another on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia as the Flyers enjoy a stretch of eight home games in their last 11 before the Christmas break.

"There are so many teams above you, around you, below you, I think we have to tackle each game as it comes," Stevens said. "We were trying to get into that top eight and now we are trying to climb as far as we can and take advantage of these games at home."

It was the fifth time this season that the Islanders have blown a multi-goal lead and lost the game, the most in the League.

Canucks 3, Predators 1 | Video

Vancouver couldn't convert on a seven-minute power play in the second period, but Alex Edler scored during a 4-on-3 advantage 24 seconds into the third to snap a 1-1 tie as Vancouver beat the Predators for the fifth consecutive time.

The Canucks wound up with the long power play when Jason Arnott drew an instigator minor and fighting major 5:19 into the second period when he went after Alex Burrows, who had hit J.P. Dumont with an elbow. But Nashville killed the long power play, which was played without a single whistle. Fans erupted into a standing ovation when Dan Ellis stopped Steve Bernier from in front and then covered the puck as Mason Raymond tried to knock in the rebound, keeping the score tied at 1-1.

“He thought one of his teammates was hit in a dirty fashion and we’re going to stick up for each other," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of Arnott, the Preds' captain. "I don't mind guys sticking together. It was a good response by Arnott. I couldn’t believe we ended up with a seven-minute penalty, but I don’t have any issues with Arnott sticking up for Dumont at all."

Burrows said he didn't see the replay but thought his hit on Dumont was clean.

"I don't want to injure the guy. I know the guy. We work out together in the summer. That is the last thing I want to do," Burrows said.

Vancouver untied it when Daniel Sedin picked up the rebound of Kevin Bieksa's missed shot and slid it to Edler, who buried it from the right circle. Burrows hit the empty net with 43.9 seconds left for the final margin.

"Daniel made an unbelievable pass," Edler said. "He had two guys on him and passed it behind his back. I had an empty net, so that is not a very hard shot for me."

The power play came about when Antti Pihlstrom was penalized for tripping as the second period expired, with teammate Shea Weber and Vancouver's Ryan Kesler already in the box.

"We got some momentum in the fact that we killed those penalties," Ellis said. "But even toward the end of the period — after the seven-minute kill — we went and took another penalty and kind of shot ourselves for the start of the third period and that’s where they got the game-winner."

The Canucks, playing Game 6 of a seven-game trip, outshot Nashville 6-1 in the opening minutes and went ahead when Kyle Wellwood fed a cross-ice pass to Pavol Demitra, who wristed a shot past Ellis at 8:35.

Radek Bonk tied it with five seconds left on a 5-on-3 goal, tapping the puck just inside the post for his second goal of the season. It was the only shot to get past Curtis Sanford, who made 20 saves.
Vancouver is 2-3-1 on its long trip and will get a break at home before traveling to Edmonton for a game Saturday night.

Avalanche 6, Kings 1 | Video

With some key veterans out with injuries, the Avalanche got scoring from some unexpected sources to beat the visiting Kings for the third time in as many tries this season.

Grinder Cody McLeod led the way with two goals and rookie Chris Stewart scored shorthanded for his first NHL goal as the Avs rolled to a 6-0 lead before Oscar Moller spoiled Peter Budaj's shutout bid at 12:02 of the second period.

"We weren't ready from the start," Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera said. "They got all the bounces."

Marek Svatos, Milan Hedjuk and Ryan Smyth also scored for Colorado, which matched a season-high for goals and won its fourth in a row at the Pepsi Center.

"We wanted a better start, and we got that tonight," forward Ian Laperriere said. "A good start like that builds momentum."

Colorado is missing captain Joe Sakic and defenseman Adam Foote, which made the contributions from players like McLeod and Stewart all the more important.

"We need everyone," Laperriere said. "Everyone has to chip in. Looks around the League: Successful teams don't just have one line, it's four lines."

After Svatos and Hedjuk scored 25 seconds apart to give the Avs an early lead, McLeod blasted Derek Armstrong into the boards, then circled back and beat Jason LaBarbera at 11:44.

Smyth's goal 2:11 into the second period made it 4-0 before McLeod scored his second of the night on a backhander at 4:48.

"It's nice to see him get rewarded at the offensive end for how hard he plays physically," coach Tony Granato said.

Stewart then banged in his own rebound at 11:18 after LaBarbera stopped his shorthanded breakaway.

"I was so excited," said Stewart, who was so busy celebrating that Laperriere had to get the puck for him. "I didn't know whether to celebrate, but I did because you only get one first goal."

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

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