Flyers top Panthers, 3-2


December 27, 2005

Michal Handzus converted in the fourth round of a shootout last night to give the visiting Philadelphia Flyers a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Philadelphia goaltender Antero Niittymaki forced Josef Stumpel, Florida's final shooter, wide and he didn't get off a shot.

Philadelphia's first three shooters, Mike Richards, Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne, were unable to get anything past Roberto Luongo, while Florida's Joe Nieuwendyk, Nathan Horton and Olli Jokinen could not beat Niittymaki.

The Flyers had the best scoring opportunities in the overtime, but Luongo stopped shots from Frederick Meyer at 2:46 and 4:33. Luongo also stopped Forsberg's shot just outside the crease as the Flyers failed to convert on a 3-on-1 break with seven seconds remaining.

Chris Gratton put the Panthers ahead 2-1 with his third goal of the season at 4:31 of the third period. Jokinen controlled the puck behind the Flyers' goal and skated near the left post where his centering pass ended in the crease. Gratton put in the loose puck.

But the Flyers countered with Ben Eager's second goal of the game at 6:42. An unmarked Eager took Luongo's deflection of Jeff Carter's shot and easily beat him from the left circle.

Blue Jackets 4, Blackhawks 3 -- Nikolai Zherdev tied the game with an acrobatic goal in the final seconds of regulation, and Jaroslav Balastik scored in overtime to lead host Columbus over Chicago. Balastik took a pass from Radoslav Suchy for a slap shot to beat Nikolai Khabibulin 2:35 into the overtime and end the Blue Jackets' six-game losing streak. It was Balastik's sixth goal of the season and fourth in the past three games. Zherdev tied it with 23 seconds left in regulation, skating end-to-end and muscling past four defenders in the Columbus zone before charging in on Khabibulin. Khabibulin stopped Zherdev's jam in the crease, but Zherdev tapped in the follow while flying through the air after the goalie knocked him off his skates.

Lightning 5, Hurricanes 4 -- Dan Boyle scored with 33 seconds left in overtime to lift host Tampa Bay over Carolina. Boyle's goal on his own rebound from in close moved the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning within eight points of the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes. Dave Andreychuk had two goals for Tampa Bay, which broke a four-game losing streak. Fredrik Modin and Tim Taylor also scored for the Lightning.

Maple Leafs 2, Devils 1 -- Bryan McCabe scored his 13th goal of the season in the first period and it stood up as the game-winner as host Toronto beat struggling New Jersey. Ed Belfour stopped 33 shots and Mats Sundin also scored for the Maple Leafs (19-14-3), who have won consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 26-28. John Madden scored for the Devils, who fell to 1-3-0 with general manager Lou Lamoriello behind the bench as interim head coach.

Senators 6, Rangers 2 -- Wade Redden had a goal and two assists, and host Ottawa scored three power-play goals in the opening period to beat New York. Redden, who scored a career-high four points, set up power-play goals by Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson before scoring his sixth of the season on another man advantage at 12:27 to put Ottawa up 3-2. He added his second goal of the game - his seventh of the season - late in the second.

Sabres 6, Islanders 3 -- Chris Drury had a goal and two assists, and Ryan Miller made 16 saves to help host Buffalo rally past New York. Ales Kotalik, Maxim Afinogenov, Brian Campbell, Thomas Vanek and Jochen Hecht also scored for the Sabres, who won for the second straight time and 17th in their past 20 games. Buffalo swept the four-game season series.

Avalanche 7, Coyotes 4 -- Milan Hejduk's third-period goal capped a comeback from a three-goal deficit, and host Colorado found a team with more troubles in net in a win over Phoenix. Hejduk took a perfect pass from Alex Tanguay through the crease and flipped it over Brian Boucher's right shoulder to break a 4-4 tie with 8:42 remaining, just as a 5-on-3 advantage was about to end.

Wild 4, Oilers 1 -- Marion Gaborik scored with 45 seconds left in the second period to break a tie and help visiting Minnesota end Edmonton's five-game winning streak.

Thrashers 4, Canadiens 0 -- Rookie Michael Garnett became the first Atlanta goaltender to post consecutive shutouts as Jaroslav Modry had a goal and three assists in a victory over visiting Montreal.

Stars 6, Blues 1 -- Goalie Johan Hedberg recorded two assists and made 25 saves to lead visiting Dallas over St. Louis.

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