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NHL Game Summary - Philadelphia at Carolina

(Sunday, December 31st)

Final Score: Philadelphia 5, Carolina 2

Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Robert Esche's 40 saves led the Philadelphia Flyers to an inspired 5-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center.

Alexei Zhitnik, Ryan Potulny, Kyle Calder and Mike Knuble added goals, Peter Forsberg recorded three assists and Todd Fedoruk picked up a pair of helpers for the Flyers, winners of back-to-back games for just the second time all season.

Ray Whitney scored twice and Eric Belanger had two assists for the Hurricanes, who have dropped two of their last three games, but have still won four of six. Cam Ward had his personal five-game winning streak halted, making just 14 saves on the night.

The Flyers were denied the early lead on a disputed goal with 1:39 remaining in the first. Knuble's shot from the top of the left circle was stopped by Ward's pad, but the rebound popped right back to the winger, and he batted the puck out of the air and into the net just beneath the crossbar.

Upon review, the goal was disallowed as Knuble's stick was ruled above the crossbar when it made contact with the puck.

Only 16 seconds later, Simon Gagne was credited with his 20th of the year as another review determined his wrister from the slot hit the back of the net before bouncing out sharply. Forsberg made the play happen with a spectacular backhand feed from behind the net to Gagne while falling down.

Carolina tied the game, 1-1 while on a power-play. Belanger stripped Zhitnik in front, and fed across to Whitney, whose one-timer was true from the left side at 11:11 of the second.

Zhitnik picked up his first as a Flyer with 13 seconds left in the period, and Philly led 2-1, despite being outshot 18-3 in the second and 30-13 in 40 minutes of play.

Potulny raised the advantage to 3-1 at 4:58 of the third, stashing home a perfect centering feed from Fedoruk, who chased down a dump-in from center ice. Calder followed 1:25 later, scoring on a breakaway by putting the brakes on right in front of Ward and lifting the puck over the fallen goaltender.

Whitney broke the Flyers' spurt when he worked with Belanger and Rod Brind'Amour to make it a 4-2 contest at 8:14, but Knuble hit the empty net with 48.8 seconds left to seal the victory.

Game Notes

The teams have split the last six meetings...Esche turned in his first back-to-back starts since November 15-18...The Flyers are 7-13-0 on the road, Carolina 11-6-1 at home...Carolina is 2-3 in its last five New Years' Eve games, Philadelphia is 5-0...Philly came into the game with an NHL-worst 88 goals on the season...Gagne now has recorded six 20-goal seasons in his seven- year career...Flyers forward Sami Kapanen left the game in the second period with an apparent upper-body injury and did not return.

12/31 23:13:01 ET

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