Gagne caps miraculous win for Flyers - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Gagne caps miraculous win for Flyers

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PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- There is absolutely no quit in Simon

Gagne, Scott Hartnell and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Gagne tied the game late in regulation and scored the decisive

goal in the shootout as the Flyers rallied from a four-goal

deficit in the third period Thursday and posted a 6-5 triumph

over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Hartnell recorded his fourth career hat trick and Scottie

Upshall also tallied for Philadelphia, which improved to 11-1-3

in its last 15 games and 6-0-2 in its last eight at home.

"Scottie Hartnell had a breakout night," Flyers coach John

Stevens said. "He was all over the ice tonight."

Jeff Carter and defenseman Andrew Alberts notched two assists

apiece and Antero Niittymaki made 26 saves for the Flyers, who

raised their record against Southeast Division opponents to

6-1-1.

Eric Staal scored two goals and set up another and Tuomo Ruutu

collected three assists for Carolina, which has not posted a

regulation victory over Philadelphia in the last 11 meetings

between the teams. Staal's first tally was his 300th career

point.

Matt Cullen, Sergei Samsonov and former Flyers defenseman Joni

Pitkanen also tallied and Michael Leighton stopped 32 shots for

the Hurricanes, who fell to 2-5-2 in their last nine games.

"We played some fine hockey for 40 minutes, and in the third, we

got a lesson in forecheck pressure," said Carolina coach Paul

Maurice, whose team fell to 1-1-2 since he took over for Peter

Laviolette on December 3. "We had a difficult night moving the

puck, and our feet stopped moving. It's a learning process for

us."

The contest was the fourth in 16 days between the clubs, with

Philadelphia posting a 3-0-1 record.

"We've played Carolina four times in the last couple of weeks,"

Upshall said. "We knew what they had and we fought back."

With the Flyers trailing, 2-0, Hartnell halved the deficit

during a power play midway through the second period, tipping

Carter's wrist shot from the blue line past Leighton at 9:17.

However, Samsonov began a string of three straight goals for the

Hurricanes just 11 seconds later as Carolina entered the second

intermission with a 5-1 cushion.

"It didn't matter what I tried to do," Niittymaki said. "The

rebounds went straight back to them and everything went in.

You're just trying to think, 'What's going on here?'"

Hartnell chipped away at the deficit, burying the rebound of

Alberts' shot just 1:42 into the third for Philadelphia's

league-leading 12th shorthanded goal of the season. Last

campaign, the Flyers netted 13 tallies while down a skater.

After his initial shot from the right faceoff circle sailed over

the net, the puck bounced off the glass and into the slot, where

Hartnell regained possession and fired it past Leighton at 7:12

to complete his hat trick and draw Philadelphia within 5-3.

"We came in (after two periods) and (Stevens) basically said,

'You're playing like a bunch of pansies,'" Hartnell said. "We

turned it on for 20 minutes. You get one quick and you never

know what's going to happen. We stuck with it, got a couple of

great goals late and we were able to get the extra point out of

it."

Niittymaki, who has won four in a row, denied former Flyer Rod

Brind'Amour on a breakaway with just under 11 minutes remaining,

and Upshall made it a one-goal game at 15:08, when he converted

the rebound of a slap shot by defenseman Lasse Kukkonen for his

fifth of the season.

"I think collectively, we came together and we threw everything

at them," Upshall said. "We played pretty much Flyer hockey,

the way we know how. We shot the puck, we made simple plays and

we won battles, and that was the difference."

"It seems like when a guy like Scottie scores, it gives your

team even more energy," Stevens said. "Then the power play kept

coming and we just stayed with it. It was great to see."

Just three seconds after Carolina successfully killed rookie

blue-liner Brett Carson's hooking penalty, Gagne did the

unthinkable, stuffing his second attempt past Leighton at the

right goalpost with 1:44 remaining to forge a 5-5 tie.

"Richie (captain Mike Richards) kept the puck in and Mike

(Knuble) made a blind pass to me," Gagne said. "I took the

first shot and then the rebound. I needed that rebound to go

in. At first, I thought the puck went behind the net, but it

worked out. It was a great feeling."

"It's not what we had envisioned going into the third period,"

Staal said. "We got back on our heels and they just kept

attacking. ... The chances they got, they capitalized on. They

were taking pucks to the net from low and they were finding the

back of the net, so it's a tough one to swallow."

Knuble recorded his 400th career point on the play with an

assist, while Richards extended his points streak to six games

by helping set up the goal.

Stevens was unhappy with his team's effort over the first 40

minutes but thrilled - and a bit surprised - with its late

surge.

"I was disappointed with the way we played the first two

periods," he said. "It seemed like our role players were really

providing the energy and the physical play, but we were allowing

their skill people to hurt us.

"The game plan (in the third) was to get pucks in deep and put

pressure on them with our forecheck. I just asked them to go

out and play 20 minutes the right way. I never had any idea

that we could come back from that kind of a hole against a team

that was playing so well."

After a scoreless overtime that saw Carolina fail to cash in on

a power play, Gagne began the shootout by avoiding a diving

Leighton and sliding the puck into a vacant net.

"I've practiced shootouts with him when he played here,' Gagne

said of former teammate Leighton. "I think he knew I liked to

go with my backhand. I figured I'd fake to go to my backhand

and come back to my forehand. He went for the poke-check pretty

hard, but I was ready to move on the forehand."

Niittymaki made a blocker save on Ruutu before Richards lifted a

backhander past Leighton after deking for a 2-0 advantage.

Representing the Hurricanes' last chance, Brind'Amour was denied

by the glove of Niittymaki, whose last three victories have come

against Carolina.

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