Rostislav Olesz gets a goal and an assist as Panthers beat Flyers 3-1

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Olesz scored 30 seconds into the game and added an assist as the Panthers extended Philadelphia's franchise-record losing streak to 10 games with a 3-1 victory. "It set the tone," Olesz said of the goal, his fourth in five games. "Every team, every night wants to start like this." Jozef Stumpel and Mike Van Ryn also scored for Florida, which has won four of its last six. Martin Gelinas had two assists.

Stumpel, Olesz and Gelinas were playing on the same line for the first time, and the combination paid immediate dividends.

"Right away you could see (Olesz) had the fire going," Gelinas said, "and you just want to match that energy."

Kyle Calder scored for the Flyers, who haven't won since beating the New York Islanders 3-2 on Nov. 30.

"We did some good things at times, but we dropped the ball at times where we didn't get to the loose puck," Flyers coach John Stevens said.

Ed Belfour made 23 saves for Florida.

Antero Niittymaki, making his 16th consecutive start for Philadelphia, stopped 22 shots before being replaced by Robert Esche after two periods.

Nittymaki left the game with what general manager Paul Holmgren described as a slight hip strain.

"I felt a little sore the whole game, more and more every time I went down," Nittymaki said. "I felt it was better to be safe than sorry."

Esche, returning to action after missing 11 games following groin surgery, stopped eight of nine shots in the third.

Captain Peter Forsberg also was back in the lineup for the Flyers after missing the last three games because of a concussion. He had a couple of good scoring chances but no points.

"It's been a while since I've been on the ice. I couldn't move for the longest time there," Forsberg said. "But it's good to be back. It's just too bad we didn't win the game."

The Flyers had some good opportunities, including a 5-on-3 for 1:04 late in the third period.

"I thought we battled pretty hard," Forsberg said. "But we've got to battle a little harder if we're going to win some games."

Olesz opened the scoring after poking the puck away from defenceman Alexei Zhitnik from behind. The puck bounced off Gelinas skate and back to Olesz, who was alone in front of the net and beat Niittymaki with a quick deke to his forehand.

Stumpel made it 2-0 at 3:40 of the second when he tipped in Gelinas slapshot from the point.

"That goal real early helped, it kind of put them in a little bit of a hole," said Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester.

Calder got Philadelphia s only goal on the power play at 18:16 of the second. His pass across the crease went in off the left skate of Belfour.

Van Ryn gave Florida a two-goal lead again when he beat Esche with a slapshot at 8:59 of the third.

"We got some big saves from Eddie tonight when we needed to," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "I'm sure he'd like to have the goal back that went in. He has that ability after a goal to shut it down."

Notes: The Flyers are now 0-20-1 when trailing after two periods and 1-20-1 when the opponent scores first . . . Panthers C Olli Jokinen and RW Nathan Horton both had five-game points streaks snapped . . . This was the first game of a season-long eight-game road trip for the Flyers . . . Florida placed C Stephen Weiss (shoulder) on the injury list, retroactive to Dec. 12, and recalled LW David Booth from Rochester of the AHL.


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