PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Robert Esche credits much of his success to Sean Burke.
He returned the favor by beating his best friend Friday night.
Esche stopped 18 shots and Tony Amonte scored the go-ahead goal in the
second period, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to their 11th straight victory
at home, 3-2 over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Esche, traded to Philadelphia before last season, learned a lot from Burke
when the two goaltenders played together in Phoenix.
"I was a real head case when I came up. I did a lot of dumb things," Esche
said. "He got on me, really taught me how to play the game."
Esche's relationship with Burke actually began more than 10 years ago. Burke
was playing an exhibition game with the New Jersey Devils in Utica, N.Y. and
Esche was just a young fan. Burke gave Esche his stick that day, and the two
later became close friends.
"I was real excited to play him," said Esche, who still has that stick.
"I took another step today because last year when I played against him I
wasn't ready. Tonight I was calm the whole game."
Jim Vandermeer and John LeClair also scored for the NHL-leading Flyers, who
are 12-0-2 at the Wachovia Center this season -- the only team unbeaten at home.
Branko Radivojevic and Andrei Nazarov scored for the Coyotes, who were
unbeaten in their last four games. Burke, a former Flyers goalie, had 28 saves.
"Everyone knows what our record is at home so they're putting forth their
best effort," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Amonte gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead midway through the second period with
his ninth goal. Jeremy Roenick set it up with a crisp cross-ice pass to Amonte,
who slapped it past Burke.
Amonte and Roenick also are former Coyotes. Roenick signed with the Flyers
as a free agent in 2001. Amonte came over in a deal last March.
"J.R. loves that pass," Amonte said. "I just have to be ready for it."
LeClair gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead on a power-play goal 1:18 into the third
period. He redirected a pass from Michal Handzus between Burke's legs.
But Nazarov cut it to 3-2 with his first goal just 16 seconds later.
"They are a tough team, a deep team," Coyotes coach Bob Francis said.
"They are big, strong and they come at you in waves."
Esche kept it there with a nice save, smothering a shot by Chris Gratton,
who also once played for the Flyers, with 27 seconds left.
The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead on Radivojevic's goal with 12 seconds left in
the first period. Paul Mara took a pass from Brian Savage, held the puck then
slid a pass to Radivojevic, who one-timed it past Esche for his seventh goal.
Vandermeer tied it at 1 just 2:59 into the second period with his first goal
of the season. He one-timed a pass from Justin Williams just inside the left
"One mistake followed by another puts you in trouble," Coyotes center
Shane Doan said.