for this game

Forsberg scores twice; Blackhawks suffer third straight shutout

Oct 31, 2006 - 2:48 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The Philadelphia Flyers finally found a team with more problems than them.

Peter Forsberg scored a pair of pretty goals and Robert Esche made 26 saves as the Flyers sent the Chicago Blackhawks to their third straight shutout with a 3-0 victory.

Philadelphia entered with six losses in its last seven games and a league-low five points on the young season. But the Flyers got back on track behind a big effort from their captain and a strong performance by Esche, who had surrendered 17 goals in his first three appearances this season.

"It's going to be a long season," Esche admitted. "I'm going to have good games and I'm going to have bad games. It's how you deal with all the adversity in between."

Right now, the Flyers look like a Stanley Cup favorite compared to the reeling Blackhawks, who have lost five straight games and have not scored in 205 minutes, 10 seconds.

Chicago has not tallied in nine days and has not won since October 18. The once-proud "Original Six" franchise had not been blanked in three straight games since 1974-75.

"Until you've gone through it, you can't really explain it," Blackhawks center Bryan Smolinski said. "Even then, you can't put it into words. When you lose key guys and our top-notch players, other guys are thrown into roles that they are not used to. For some reason, we're not finding the back of the net."

Philadelphia got all the offense it needed 7:25 into the contest when Forsberg received a pass from rookie Stefan Ruzicka and slipped a silky backhander around former Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher.

Forsberg made it 2-0 with a spectacular individual effort midway through the third period. After Simon Gagne hit the goalpost, Forsberg gathered the rebound in the left corner and circled around. He maneuvered around Patrick Sharp and finished the play by slipping a backhander under Boucher.

"Peter is the captain of our hockey team and he is a great player," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "He did some really great things tonight."

Forsberg's second goal came shortly after Sharp had several chances to tie the game. The former Flyer split the defense but had the puck swiped away by diving defenseman Denis Gauthier. Two minutes later, Sharp was on the doorstep but chipped the puck over the crossbar.

"We have to get every point that we can possibly get," Forsberg said. "We're not going to kid ourselves. Chicago has been struggling lately. They have their three best players out. We have to get better, but it was a step in the right direction."

Gagne recorded an empty-net goal in the final minute to cap the scoring.

"This was an important win for us," Gagne said. "You don't like to lose 8-2 at home (vs. Pittsburgh on Saturday). We need to focus on our defense and that's what we did tonight."

Boucher finished with 32 saves for Chicago, which went 0-for-3 on the power play and also stalled its comeback attempt by committing four of its six penalties in the third period.

"It's times like this where (the team leaders) have to step up," Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said. "The guys with the ability to score goals, no matter if they have been in the league or not, they have to do something."

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