NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Philadelphia
(Thursday, December 11th)
Final Score: Philadelphia 6, Carolina 5 (SO)
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Scott Hartnell notched his fourth career hat trick and Simon Gagne scored the deciding goal in the shootout, as the Philadelphia Flyers stormed back from a four-goal third period deficit to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes, 6-5, at the Wachovia Center.
In what has become a broken record, the Flyers faced off against Carolina for fourth time in the last 16 days, with Philadelphia winning the season series (3-0-1).
Gagne was the first shooter in the extra segment and he deked to his left before stuffing the puck on the forehand past Michael Leighton, who committed early on the poke check. After Tuomo Ruutu was denied by Philadelphia's Antero Niittymaki, Mike Richards went to the backhand and roofed the puck over Leighton. Niittymaki then made a glove save on Rod Brind'Amour to preserve the win.
The victory marked just the second time in franchise history the Flyers trailed by four goals in the third period and came back to win.
Gagne scored the tying goal with 1:44 remaining in regulation and Scottie Upshall also lit the lamp for the Flyers, who have rebounded from a horrific 0-3-3 start to the 2008-09 campaign, going 15-4-3 over their next 22 tilts. Jeff Carter and Andrew Alberts both collected two assists, while Niittymaki made 26 saves.
Eric Staal registered two goals and an assist for the Hurricanes, who have dropped four of their last five games. Ruutu finished with three helpers, while Leighton surrendered five goals on 37 shots.
"We played some fine hockey for 40 minutes and in the third we got a lesson in fore check pressure," said Carolina head coach Paul Maurice.
Trailing 5-1 at the beginning of the third period, Hartnell scored at the 1:42 mark, and the Flyers crawled back within two as the former first-round pick completed the hat trick at 7:12 on the power play.
Philadelphia continued to chip away. Leighton turned aside Lasse Kukkonen's drive from the top of the right circle, but Upshall was able to bury the rebound with 4:52 remaining.
Gagne then capped the remarkable comeback with 1:44 to play in regulation. Shortly after Carolina rookie defenseman Brett Carson vacated the penalty box, the Flyers worked the puck deep in the Hurricanes' territory. Mike Knuble sent a backhand pass to Gagne at the right side of the goal. His first try was stopped, but Gagne continued to whack away and eventually banged it home.
Philadelphia killed off a penalty in the extra session to send the game to a shootout.
"I was disappointed with the way we played the first two periods," said Flyers head coach John Stevens. "It seemed like our role players were really providing the energy and physical play, but we were allowing their skill people to hurt us. Staal looked like a man possessed tonight. We were having a tough time containing him. 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 hole against a team that was playing so well."
Staal gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead 61 seconds into the game, beating Niittymaki on the backhand, for his 300th career point.
The Hurricanes struck again early in the second period. Justin Williams held the puck along the left boards near the offensive blueline and dished across to Matt Cullen, roaring down the right wing. Cullen continued to drive the net and managed to flip the puck past Niittymaki at the 2:10 mark.
Sergei Samsonov then banged in the rebound of a Staal shot at 9:28, 11 seconds after Hartnell's power-play marker put Philadelphia on the board.
Carolina used the power play to build a four-goal cushion.
From behind the cage, Ray Whitney fed an uncovered Joni Pitkanen, whose one- timer from inside the left circle found the back of the net with 7:52 remaining in the middle stanza.
A laser off the stick of Staal, his team-leading 11th tally of the season, eluded Niittymaki with 4:47 left in the frame, and Carolina carried a seemingly comfortable 5-1 advantage into the second intermission.
"He (Stevens) came in and basically said we were playing like a bunch of pansies," Hartnell stated when asked what Stevens said after the second period.
Knuble's assist gave him 400 career points...Philadelphia has had 14 of its 15 games at home this season decided by one goal (8-4-3)...Carolina defenseman Bryan Rodney made his NHL debut...Before the game, the Hurricanes placed defenseman Frantisek Kaberle on injured reserve...The Flyers are 8-0-3 in the last 11 meetings with Carolina.
12/11 23:15:35 ET