Saturday, March 29, 2008

Briere's shootout goal clinches Flyers' comeback win

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Danny Briere notched the lone goal of the shootout, sending the Philadelphia Flyers to a thrilling 4-3 win over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

Briere made several stick moves as he skated slowly down the ice towards Isles netminder Wade Dubielewicz. He waited until the goalie went for the poke check at the left side of the crease before slipping a backhander into the net for the game-winner.

Briere, Joffrey Lupul and Mike Richards tallied in regulation for the Flyers, who blasted a season-high 54 shots on net and vaulted over Boston into a tie with the idle New York Rangers for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

In addition, the club moved within a point of fifth-place Ottawa, which lost to the Bruins earlier Saturday. Philadelphia, winners in five of its last six games, looks to further cement its playoff standing on Wednesday at Atlantic Division-leading Pittsburgh.

Antero Niittymaki, starting for the first time in 11 days, made 27 saves to record his 12th win of the season.

Richard Park, Frans Nielsen and Blake Comeau tallied for the Islanders, who have lost nine of their last 11 games.

Dubielewicz turned in a monster performance in defeat, stopping 51-of-54 shots in his first-ever loss against the Flyers.

The Islanders hit the scoreboard with 5:01 left in the first period. Niittymaki played a dump-in from the left wing off his stick, but the puck nicked his blade and rolled in front to Park, who deposited the disc just under the crossbar.

It was 2-0 for New York 7:43 into the second when Comeau finished off a nifty passing play with Kyle Okposo and Park, slamming the puck into an open net as Niittymaki failed to cover the net in time.

Dubielewicz was strong as iron, keeping the visitors at bay by making 14 saves through the first half of the second period alone, but the Flyers got untracked on a late power play.

Briere corralled a failed clear behind the net on the left wing, turned in front and slipped a wrister under the crossbar on the short side with 4:36 left in the middle stanza.

Despite a 23-shot barrage in the second and a 33-16 advantage after 40 minutes, Philly nonetheless went into the final period down a goal.

The Flyers rebounded to knot the game at the 3:22 mark of the third. Following a scramble in the slot, Dubielewicz made a kick save. An Islanders defender tried to clear the puck from the high slot, but Lupul intercepted in the left circle and fired off the right pipe for his 19th of the season.

However, Nielsen weaved through the Flyers' zone and slid a wrister from the left circle off Niittymaki's glove and through on the far side to give the home team a 3-2 edge with 9:41 to play.

Unbowed, the visitors kept working and drew even with 4:22 remaining as Richards one-timed a feed from Patrick Thoresen from the top of the crease.

Lupul was called for a slash with less than nine seconds left in regulation, then Jaroslav Modry was sent off 1:52 into overtime and the Flyers managed to kill off both short-handed situations.

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