NHL Game Summary - Washington at Philadelphia
(Wednesday, February 4th)
Final Score: Philadelphia 5, Washington 1
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Antero Niittymaki made 19 saves in his NHL debut and the Philadelphia Flyers posted a 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals at the Wachovia Center.
Niittymaki was forced between the pipes while Jeff Hackett recovers from vertigo and Robert Esche nurses a sprained left knee. Philadelphia improved to 7-2-1 in its last 10 games and owns a 13-0-1 mark in the last 14 meetings with the Capitals at home.
"I was a little nervous, but not too bad," Niittymaki said after the game.
Mark Recchi had a goal and two assists for the Flyers. John LeClair, Kim Johnsson and Keith Primeau each had a goal and an assist in the win.
Robert Lang posted the lone goal for Washington, which has lost two of its last three games. Olaf Kolzig was peppered with 40 shots and turned aside 36 of them, as the Caps fell to 0-3 versus Philadelphia this season.
Philadelphia opened the scoring with 5:51 remaining in the first period courtesy of Simon Gagne's 100th NHL goal. Gagne was stopped by Kolzig but deposited the rebound high into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Rookie Niittymaki had a solid first period with six stops.
"He was good, very sound," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said of his rookie goaltender. "He looks excellent. He kept it simple and we'll see how he looks tomorrow."
The Flyers will travel to Georgia for a showdown with the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night.
Lang had a chance to get the Caps on the board early in the second period, but Niittymaki slid across the crease and smothered the puck in his chest. The rookie netminder later made a glove save on a slapshot by Dainius Zubrus.
Lang finally solved Niittymaki on a one-timer with 6:28 left in the second period. Jeff Halpern was able to feed the puck to Lang before falling to the ice, and Lang whacked the disc past Niittymaki's stick for the equalizer.
The Flyers quickly took back the lead 1:26 later thanks to LeClair's goal at the 14:58 mark of the period. Michal Handzus skated along the left boards and dished the puck inside to LeClair. LeClair then corralled the puck with his stick, turned his body and backhanded the puck past Kolzig's left thigh pad.
Niittymaki turned aside seven of the eight shots he faced in the second.
Johnsson cashed in a power play when his slapshot from the point trickled past Kolzig 3:49 into the third period. Johnsson's long blast gave him six goals on the season and made it a 3-1 contest.
Recchi's power-play goal midway through the third and Primeau's empty-netter at 15:06 completed the scoring. Recchi beat Kolzig through the five-hole with a wrister, while Primeau took an unselfish pass from Jeremy Roenick for his sixth.
Gagne has 11 goals this season...Flyers forward Donald Brashear suffered a left knee sprain in the first period and didn't return...Lang registered his 26th goal of the season...The Flyers went 2-for-7 with the extra skater and killed off each of Washington's five chances on the power play...Niittymaki made six stops in the third period...Washington's last win in Philly was on January 31, 1998...Philly is 22-0-4-3 when scoring at least three goals...The Caps fell to 0-27-2 when trailing after two periods.
02/04 22:14:49 ET