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The Philadelphia Flyers needed backup goaltender Antero Niittymaki to come off the bench to help them to a road victory over the NHL's top team on Saturday.

On Sunday, he'll be in the crease from the start of the game.

Niittymaki will put his 12-0-0 record against the last-place Atlanta Thrashers on the line at Philips Arena, where he has a 1.40 goals-against average in eight career appearances.

The Flyers (27-15-9) were in danger of a third straight loss on Saturday, trailing Boston 3-1 after the first period. Niittymaki replaced the ineffective Martin Biron at the beginning of the second, stopped all 22 shots and earned the victory after Randy Jones' overtime goal gave Philadelphia a 4-3 win.

Biron came into the game with a four-start losing streak and left with a 2.96 GAA, while Niittymaki improved to 12-4-4 with a 2.50 GAA, sparking questions about a potential goalie controversy.

"Marty's still a guy we count on a lot here," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "But Niitty played well and Niitty's gonna play (Sunday), and if he continues to play well, he'll continue to get opportunities."

Niittymaki probably would have played at Atlanta anyway considering his history against the Thrashers (18-30-5). Besides his unbeaten record, the Finn has compiled a 1.76 GAA and .938 save percentage against them.

Three of those victories have come this season, including a 7-0 win at Atlanta on Oct. 28, when Niittymaki made 24 saves.

Niittymaki is one of two current goalies to have an unbeaten record with at least 10 wins against an opponent. Detroit's Chris Osgood is 17-0-0 against Tampa Bay.

"I really don't know, I just feel comfortable playing against them," Niittymaki said after a 4-3 win over Atlanta on Nov. 16. "There's no magic. Hopefully it stays that way."

It did on Jan. 21, when the Flyers won 5-3 to move to 28-3-1 with three ties all-time against the Thrashers. Philadelphia has won the last 13 overall since a 6-5 overtime loss to Atlanta on Nov. 18, 2005, and eight in a row at Philips Arena after a 4-1 defeat on Dec. 21, 2003.

The current Thrashers club, called "fragile" by first-year coach John Anderson on Friday, doesn't seem especially likely to end the streak in the teams' final meeting of the season. Atlanta has dropped five of its last six, scoring one or fewer goals four times.

The Thrashers fell 5-1 at home to New Jersey on Friday, getting outshot 18-4 and outscored 3-0 in the first period. Kari Lehtonen was pulled midway through the second after giving up five goals on 24 shots.

"I don't think he was overly sharp tonight," Anderson said. "A couple of the goals he didn't stand a chance on, but the other ones, we need him to make big saves for us. We are that type of hockey team."

Backup Johan Hedberg hasn't started since Jan. 16, and ranks last in the league with a 3.52 GAA.

Anderson's club also had major problems on special teams against the Devils, allowing two short-handed goals and going 0-for-7 on the power play. The Thrashers have converted one of their last 33 opportunities with the man advantage.

The Flyers' power play, meanwhile, ranks second in the league at 24.2 percent. They went 2-for-6 against the Bruins after going 0-for-13 in the previous two games.

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