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Esche finishes with 21 saves for Flyers

1/8/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Determined to build on a successful road
trip, the Philadelphia Flyers found a way to win despite a sluggish
performance.

Justin Williams scored the go-ahead goal midway through the
third period, leading the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo
Sabres on Tuesday night.

The Atlantic Division-leading Flyers, coming off a 4-2-1 road
trip, have won four straight.

"We accomplished a lot on the road. We raised the bar for
ourselves," said Flyers captain Keith Primeau, who scored the
team's first goal. "We didn't want to take a step back."

Buffalo had won two in a row after losing seven straight.

Ales Kotalik scored both of the Sabres' goals. He also had both
of Buffalo's goals in a 2-1 win over Ottawa on Saturday.

"We started playing in a shell and didn't have the killer
instinct to go out and get that third goal," Sabres forward Rob
Ray said. "It's a young team and that's something you have to
teach them."

The Flyers hadn't taken a shot in the third period before
Williams unleashed a slap shot from just outside the right faceoff
circle that soared over the left shoulder of Sabres goaltender Ryan
Miller.

"It was a great breakout by our defenseman, Jeremy Roenick
carried the puck up, passed it to Simon (Gagne) and I'm glad I
buried it," Williams said.

Philadelphia's previous shot was Roenick's game-tying goal with
26.4 seconds left in the second period.

Mark Recchi started a barrage of backhanders with a pass behind
the net to Roenick, who backhanded a pass to Williams in front of
the net. Williams then backhanded a shot that hit the stick of
Sabres defenseman Jay McKee and went to Roenick, who backhanded it
into an open net for his 13th goal.

"I know it wasn't pretty, but that's the sign of a good club,"
Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's a great character win.
After a long road trip, there's so many things going on in your
life that are non-hockey that it's hard to focus."

Primeau's power-play goal cut it to 2-1 with 7:18 left in the
second. Primeau won a faceoff, went to the net, positioned himself
in front of Miller and put in a rebound off a shot by Kim Johnsson
for his 11th goal.

Robert Esche made 21 saves to improve to 8-2-3.

"It wasn't one of our best games, but we found a way to win,"
Esche said. "You have a successful road trip, the last thing you
want to do is come home and not play well."

The Sabres took a 1-0 lead when Kotalik slapped a shot past with
15 seconds left in the first period. His power-play goal midway
through the second made it 2-0.

Miroslav Satan set up the goal with a pass that went between
Johnsson's legs right to Kotalik, who one-timed a shot for his 10th
goal.

"We had a lot of odd-numbered situations that we didn't take
advantage of," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.

Game notes
The Sabres are a league-worst 3-13-2-1 on the road, and have
scored just 89 goals, fewest in the Eastern Conference. ... Gagne
returned after missing five games because of a concussion. ...
Defenseman Chris Therien missed his third game in a row with a
concussion. ... Buffalo had won five of the last six games against
the Flyers. ... Recchi's two assists gave him 1,100 points, making
him the 46th player in NHL history to reach that mark. ... It was
Miller's first loss in regulation in six career starts. He's 3-3.

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