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Sudden-death shootout goal lifts Flyers over 'Canes

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Flyers were less than a
second away from a tough defeat that would've caused even more
panic among fans hoping for a major deal hours before the trade
deadline.

Freddy Meyer delayed the misery and Simon Gagne sent them home
thrilled.

Gagne scored in a sudden-death shootout after Meyer tied it with
0.2 seconds left in regulation, leading the Flyers to a 3-2 victory
over the league-leading Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

Peter Forsberg scored to force sudden death and R.J. Umberger
had a goal in regulation for Philadelphia, which has won
consecutive games in shootouts following a four-game losing streak.

"It was a great win for us against one of the best teams right
now," Gagne said. "We need these points. Winning at home is huge
for us. We haven't really had a good stretch at home the last few
games."

The Flyers, who led the NHL in mid-January, closed within one
point of the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers, who lost
in a shootout to Atlanta.

Ray Whitney and Justin Williams scored for the Hurricanes, who
had won five straight.

"That wasn't a good way to lose," Whitney said. "It's
unfortunate they got somewhat of a scramble goal that was kind of
lucky."

The Flyers finally got the puck out of their zone and pulled
goaltender Antero Niittymaki for an extra skater with 22 seconds
left in the third period after Carolina had controlled play.

With the clock winding down, Mike Rathje ripped a shot from the
point that Meyer deflected past goalie Martin Gerber just before
time expired.

"I got a stick on it and I think it went five-hole," Meyer
said. "I knew there wasn't much time left when I was in front of
the net so I knew that was going to be the last chance."

The goal fired up normally calm Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock, who
walked up and down the bench slapping players on their backs.

Whitney scored on the first shot in the shootout, but Niittymaki
stopped Matt Cullen and Williams. Mike Richards and Petr Nedved
missed for the Flyers, but Forsberg -- just like he did in a win
against Montreal on Monday night -- scored on a backhander to extend
the shootout.

Niittymaki swiped the puck away from Eric Staal and Gagne
flipped in a backhander to win it for the Flyers.

"I haven't had much success with shootouts so I was a little
nervous," Gagne said. "Maybe next time will be a little
smoother."

Niittymaki, the tournament MVP of the Olympics after he led
Finland to the silver medal, kept Philadelphia in the game with
some brilliant saves. He stopped Kevyn Adams on a short-handed
breakaway and stoned Doug Weight on a breakaway after he came out
of the penalty box in the second period.

Carolina had a two-man advantage for two minutes in the second,
but couldn't score. But Whitney put them ahead 2-1 on his 12th goal
with 2:25 left in the second.

Williams, who began his career in Philadelphia, gave Carolina a
1-0 lead early with his 21st goal. Umberger's power-play goal in
the second tied it at 1.

"Right now it's about getting points," Hitchcock said. "We
are trying to get this thing back on track and we have a lot of
work to do. We know that and players know that. We are starting to
build it back again and it's a good feeling."

The injury-depleted Flyers lost defenseman Derian Hatcher, the
team captain, to a bruised right knee. Hitchcock said he wasn't
concerned the injury was serious. Philadelphia also was without
center Michal Handzus (shoulder) for the fifth consecutive game.
Defensemen Kim Johnsson (concussion) and Chris Therien (head)
remain out indefinitely, while former captain Keith Primeau
(concussion) announced last week he'll sit out the rest of the
season.

The Hurricanes played their second game since forward Erik Cole
went down with a fractured vertebra. Cole, who is second on the
team with 30 goals, will miss the rest of the regular season.

"We had a mess of chances to score and bury this game and we
didn't," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.<
^Notes: Forward Turner Stevenson played for the Flyers, even though
he was waived before the game. The move allowed Philadelphia to
free up $1.2 million under the salary cap in case it makes a trade
before Thursday's 3 p.m. EST deadline. If Stevenson isn't claimed
by another team, he remains property of the Flyers. ... The
Hurricanes took the season series, 2-0-2.