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Post-game report: Ottawa 3 Philadelphia 2

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators

OTTAWA (AP) - Dany Heatley scored 19 seconds into the second period and the Ottawa Senators held on for a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.

Heatley's 34th goal of the season put Ottawa ahead 3-0 before the Flyers rallied with two goals later in the second to make it close.

Antoine Vermette and Vaclav Varada had first-period goals for the Senators, who won for the first time in three games and head into the Olympic break in first place in the Northeast Division.

Simon Gagne and Donald Brashear scored for Philadelphia, which remained second in the Atlantic, three points behind the first-place New York Rangers.

Robert Esche started in goal for Philadelphia but was replaced at 14:07 of the first after giving up two scores, not for his play but as an attempt by head coach Ken Hitchcock to shake up his team. Ottawa led 2-0 at the time and had a 13-4 edge in shots.

Antero Niittymaki replaced Esche and was solid, stopping 21 of 22 shots. Dominik Hasek had 29 saves for Ottawa.

On Heatley's goal, Patrick Eaves took the initial shot that Niittymaki stopped but Heatley was able to convert the rebound.

Vermette opened the scoring 8:58 into the first when he poked the puck past Esche with defenseman Joni Pitkanen lying on top of him.

Varada made it 2-0 when he fired a shot past Esche after taking a one-handed pass from Chris Neil.

Gagne scored his 37th goal of the season at 13:46 of the second to cut the Flyers' deficit to 3-1 before Brashear registered his third of the season at 16:52 to make it a one-goal game.

Notes: The Senators improved to 11-1-2 on Saturday nights this season, including Hasek's 9-0-1 mark. ... The Senators have sold out their last 19 home dates and have a club-record 25 sellouts in 29 games this season.

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