Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Biron sharp as Flyers overcome loss of Gagne to clip Canucks

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Martin Biron stopped 29 shots, 11 in the third period alone, as the Philadelphia Flyers extended their unbeaten streak in Vancouver to 14 games over nearly 20 years, edging the Canucks, 3-2, at GM Place.

The Flyers have not lost in British Columbia since a 5-3 setback at Pacific Coliseum on January 17, 1989, posting 10 wins and four ties over that span. The club also improved to 7-0-1 at GM Place since its opening prior to the 1995-96 season.

Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell and Jonathon Kalinski hit the net for the Flyers, who overcame the early loss of forward Simon Gagne to snap a two-game losing streak.

Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler tallied for the Canucks, who have lost three of their last four games.

Starter Curtis Sanford allowed two goals on nine shots in 20 minutes of play, then Cory Schneider finished the game strongly, allowing one goal on 20 shots.

Facing a one-goal deficit, the Canucks dominated for stretches of the third period. Biron kept the home team at bay with a half-dozen quality saves in the first 10 minutes.

Hartnell had a clean breakaway with seven minutes remaining, but Schneider managed to get his pad extended to stop the shovel shot from the crease.

Biron then came up with a huge glove save on Steve Bernier with 6 1/2 minutes remaining, stoning the forward from the edge of the crease.

Schneider was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:20 remaining and Mike Knuble was penalized for slashing with 20 seconds left. Despite the 6-on-4 advantage, Philly won several key faceoffs and didn't allow any quality chances as time ran out.

Gagne departed only 15 seconds into the contest with an upper body injury, the victim of a questionable hit from Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa and did not return.

Unbowed, the visitors took a 1-0 lead as Carter upped his league-leading goal total to 27, converting a pass from Matt Carle into a backhander past Sanford at 3:16.

Sedin countered with a power-play wrister with 3:06 left in the first, sneaking a shot off Biron's shoulder and under the crossbar.

Hartnell restored Philly's lead 45 seconds later, unloading a slapshot from the left circle high and inside the right post.

Schneider spelled Sanford to start the second but the move didn't pay off as Kalinski picked up his first career goal 2:36 into the second period, tapping home an errant Josh Gratton pass from the slot.

The Flyers kept up the offensive pressure but couldn't add to their cushion.

Kesler's redirection of an Alex Burrows dish from the left circle brought Vancouver within 3-2 with just over eight minutes left in the frame.

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