The third period began and hope was all but lost for the Flyers fans. The team looked sluggish through two periods. Things looked bleak.
Down 2-0 halfway through the Second Period to the Carolina Hurricanes, on goals by Eric Staal and Matt Cullen, Scott Hartnell scored on the Power Play to cut the Canes deficit in half. Then the bottom fell out. Eleven seconds later, Sergei Samsonov got behind defenseman Ossi Vaananen (covering for a pinching Luca Sbisa) and made it 3-1.
Things got even worse from there when Scott Walker boarded Andrew Alberts and all hell broke lose. Eventually it settled down into a Walker-Arron Asham scrap, but the result was a four minute power play for Carolina, as Alberts and Asham combined for 21 penalty minutes compared to Walker's five. The game looked lost and out of control when Carolina scored twice on the ensuing Power Plays, goals by former Flyer Joni Pitkanen, and Eric Staal's 2nd of the night. The fans let the referees have the business every time they made a call, and as the two left the ice for the second.
Everyone was expecting the Flyers to roll over and die. They were down four with 1 period remaining, and the referees seemed to be against them.
The Flyers proved everyone wrong and came out flying in the third period. Scott Hartnell tallied his second of the night early in the period, and a few minutes later, he netted his third on the Powerplay to give him a hattrick and to give the fans something to cheer for. Suddenly, there was life. The Flyers were only down two, with over twelve minutes to play. With about five minutes left in the game, Scottie Upshall knocked out Goaltender Michael Leighton's stick and buried a goal to make the Canes' lead one. Simon Gagne then tied the game with less than two minutes remaining.
While the Flyers were putting the pressure on, Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki was up to the task to keep the Hurricanes at five. He had several outstanding saves in the third period and overtime and helped the Flyers get to the shootout.
In the shootout, both Simon Gagne and Mike Richards scored for the Flyers, as Niittymaki stood tall, denying both Tuomo Ruutu & Rod Brind'Amour to preserve the win.
1. Scott Hartnell (PHI)
2. Simon Gagne (PHI)
3. Eric Staal (CRL)
The Flyers wiped out their biggest deficit en route to a win since a February 1988 11-6 win over Detroit. The Flyers also trailed 5-1 in that game.
In addition to the Asham-Walker bout, Hartnell fought Carolina's Casey Borer after Hartnell clocked Rod Brind'Amour. Borer left the ice bloodied.
Lehigh Valley Report
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