NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Philadelphia
(Sunday, November 16th)
Final Score: Philadelphia 4, Atlanta 3
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Simon Gagne registered a goal and two assists as the Philadelphia Flyers ended Atlanta's bid for a franchise record sixth straight win with a 4-3 victory at the Wachovia Center.
Gagne leads the team with 22 points and now has seven points in two games against the Thrashers this year while Antero Niittymaki continued his dominance over Atlanta, moving to 11-0-0 for his career against the club. Niittymaki also started the October 28 7-0 rout of Atlanta, earning his fourth career shutout in the process.
"It's a remarkable run that he has. He really was strong tonight and we knew he would have to be," Flyers head coach John Stevens said. "I thought he was terrific down the stretch to keep the streak alive."
Mike Knuble notched a goal and assist for the Flyers, who have won 12 straight and 15 of the last 16 encounters between the two clubs. Philadelphia has won three of its last four and went 3-0-1 in those contests, all in the last six days. Joffrey Lupul came up with the game-winner in the third period.
Erik Christensen, Slava Kozlov and Bryan Little each notched a goal while Ilya Kovalchuk had two assists. Little extended his point-scoring streak to six straight games and has four goals and five assists during the run.
Johan Hedberg made 28 saves for the Thrashers, who also had a two-game winning streak as the visitor snapped. Atlanta is now 2-5-2 on the road this year.
The Thrashers, who have also dropped five straight and nine of 10 in Philadelphia, last beat the Flyers on November 18, 2005.
With just under eight minutes to go, Kozlov deflected a Ron Hainsey shot from the left point and got his own rebound in front to tie the game, 3-3.
However, just 1:40 later Lupul broke into the Thrashers' zone and put the brakes on at the left circle, skated to his right, and fired a low shot past Hedberg to regain the lead, 4-3.
Atlanta pulled the goaltender with 1:19 remaining but Niittymaki made several stops over that stretch, adding to his 19 third-period saves to seal the win.
"They came out hard in the third period," Niittymaki said. "They were down and got that goal (Little's) and it gave them some momentum. We battled pretty hard."
Things started poorly for Atlanta right out of the gate as Gagne picked up a loose puck in his own zone and broke in on Hedberg alone. Gagne waited until the last moment to drag the puck from forehand to back and flipped the puck past the sprawled netminder just 53 seconds in.
"I wasn't upset that we were behind but how we got behind," Atlanta head coach John Anderson said. "We gave them a breakaway in the first minute of the game and set the table."
Then with 20.2 seconds remaining in the first, Gagne found Knuble on a rush in the high slot for a wrister that sailed clear of Hedberg for a 2-0 game after one period.
Atlanta cut the lead in half 5:45 into the second. Kovalchuk picked up a loose puck along the left boards and skated down low to the left of the net before dropping the disc back into the slot for Christensen, whose quick shot beat Niittymaki in close.
A power-play marker with 8:33 left in the period gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead. Kimmo Timonen collected a bouncing puck at the right point and skated to his left, setting up a screen in front, and ripped a slap shot that found the back of the net.
Little was credited with a goal to give the Thrashers a lift just 35 seconds into the third, making it a one-goal game. Niittymaki made the initial save but defenseman Luca Sbisa tried to push the puck back to the netminder for a stoppage. Little crashed the net and Jeff Carter's clearing attempt deflected off the goaltender and into the net.
Philadelphia is now 3-4-1 at home this season...It was Gagne's 11th goal of the season...Flyers captain Mike Richards had his eight-game point streak halted...Philadelphia converted 1-of-3 power play chances while Atlanta failed to convert on its two chances...The Thrashers' 21 shots in the third was a season high.
11/16 22:52:50 ET