GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (25-11-10-5) at Florida Panthers (17-21-10-3).
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EDT.
Robert Esche has removed any doubt that he is the No. 1 goaltender on the
Esche looks to lead the resurgent Flyers to their sixth win in seven games
when they face the Florida Panthers for the third time this month.
Esche had been splitting time with Jeff Hackett most of this season despite
posting superior numbers in wins, goals-against average and save percentage.
Esche, however, is the team's undisputed starter now that Hackett has been
sidelined two weeks with vertigo, caused by an inner-ear infection.
It is uncertain when Hackett will return, so Esche is expected to make his
seventh consecutive start Wednesday.
Esche has performed very well in Hackett's absence, winning five of six
starts while allowing nine goals. He needed to make just 12 saves in a 4-1
victory at Washington on Sunday.
The line of Mark Recchi, John LeClair and Michal Handzus combined for three
goals and seven assists, leading Philadelphia to its fifth win in six games
following a six-game winless streak.
``I find that you're never as bad as you think you are and you're never as
good as you think you are,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``And after all
the fury is over and you look at the game, you find that there's a very fine
line between winning and losing in this business.''
Continuing their strong play will be more difficult for the Flyers because
right wing Tony Amonte _ their fourth-leading scorer _ is expected to be
sidelined two weeks with a knee injury sustained Sunday.
``I talked to Tony today,'' Flyers center Jeremy Roenick said. ``He's pretty
sore, and he doesn't feel good. He hasn't missed too missed many games in his
career. He's very frustrated. He's lucky he didn't snap his leg off. He feels
fortunate about that.''
Philadelphia, winner of seven straight at the Office Depot Center, is
13-3-2-1 against the Panthers since the start of the 1999-00 season.
Florida failed in a bid to win its season-high third straight game Monday,
falling 5-2 to the New York Rangers.
Kristian Huselius and Bryon Ritchie had goals for the Panthers, who dropped
into 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
``They played a good game and they played hard. But the fact is we had 40
shots,'' Panthers coach Rick Dudley said. ``We didn't capitalize on enough of
After stopping 71 of 73 shots in back-to-back wins over Washington and
Boston, All-Star goalie Roberto Luongo gave up four goals on 37 shots on