for this game

Downie scores late as Flyers edge Thrashers

Feb 6, 2008 - 5:13 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Rookie Steve Downie helped the Philadelphia Flyers continue their dominance over the Atlanta Thrashers.

Downie snapped a tie with 4:29 remaining in the third period and Antero Niittymaki turned aside 23 shots to lead the Flyers to a 3-2 triumph over the Thrashers on Tuesday.

Mike Knuble and All-Star Mike Richards scored power-play goals for Philadelphia, which has not lost in regulation to Atlanta since December 21, 2003.

Despite the win, Flyers coach John Stevens was a bit critical of his team's performance.

"We won the hockey game tonight, but I think we all agree we can play better," he said. "The bottom line is that we found a way to win. It's a big two points on the road against a team that's desperate trying to win its division."

Superstar Ilya Kovalchuk returned after a two-game absence to score his 39th goal and tough guy Eric Boulton also tallied for the Thrashers, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

With the contest knotted at 2-2, Scott Hartnell recovered a turnover behind Atlanta's net and attempted a stuff attempt at the right goalpost. The puck wound up on the stick of Downie, whose blast from the slot beat goaltender Kari Lehtonen for his fourth goal of the season.

"I just took a swing at it, and it went in the net," said Downie, the 29th overall pick in the 2005 draft. "(Hartnell) got it out in front of the net and (I put it) in."

All-Star Marian Hossa nearly tied the contest 30 seconds later, but his shot from the left faceoff circle rang off the right post.

"Tonight, we couldn't find a way to tie it up," Thrashers coach Don Waddell said. "It's frustrating. We played a pretty good hockey game."

Niittymaki looked nothing like the netminder who was 0-2-0 with a gaudy 9.60 goals-against average over his previous two contests. It helped that he was facing the Thrashers, a club against which he has known nothing but success.

The 27-year-old Finnish netminder improved to 8-0-0 against Atlanta, making 11 saves in the opening period and six in each of the final two.

"It's just something about this building," said Niittymaki, who has recorded seven of his wins over the Thrashers at Philips Arena. "I like to play here. It's one of those things where you feel comfortable playing some teams and you get good bounces, too."

"We just targeted this game for Niittymaki," Stevens said. "He seems to play his best games against Atlanta. He really elevated his game and was instrumental in the win tonight. I thought he was terrific."

In the matchup between two of Finland's top netminders, once again it was Lehtonen who came up empty.

After stopping all 36 shots he faced in a win over Washington on Saturday, Lehtonen made 33 saves in this one. But it was not good enough for the 24-year-old to top his compatriot for the first time in North America.

"We have one more game against them," Lehtonen said. "I feel terrible. I was not on top of my game."

"It's always nice to play another Finnish goalie," Niittymaki said. "Maybe it gives you a little extra boost. You never want to lose to your countryman, but still, it's just one game and you try to win."

Knuble got the Flyers on the board just 69 seconds into the contest. The 35-year-old, who scored all three of his team's goals in Saturday's victory over Anaheim for his first career hat trick, redirected Richards' one-timer from the left point past Lehtonen for his 20th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.

"I think Knuble is a big part of (their power play)," Lehtonen said. "He always is able to get his stick in every shot."

Atlanta pulled even nine minutes into the second period. Todd White found a streaking Kovalchuk in the neutral zone, and the Russian All-Star skated in alone before beating Niittymaki to the glove side at 8:56.

Kovalchuk had missed the previous two games with a knee injury after a knee-on-knee collision with Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu on Wednesday.

"I feel pretty good," said Kovalchuk, who was wearing a brace on his right knee. "I thought (the injury) was going to be worse than that. (The brace) didn't bother me at all. I just needed to get used to the brace a little bit."

Richards restored the lead for Philadelphia just 29 seconds later.

After Atlanta defenseman Niclas Havelid was called for interference, Daniel Briere drew the puck back to Richards following a faceoff win in the right circle. From the point, Richards slid a one-timer under the right pad of Lehtonen at 9:25 for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season.

Boulton tied the contest with 82 seconds left in the middle period, when his wrister from the top of the right circle beat Niittymaki just inside the left post.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 1 1 1 3
    ATLANTA 0 2 0 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PHI - (PP) MIKE KNUBLE 20 (MIKE RICHARDS, SIMON GAGNE) 1:39
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 39 (TODD WHITE, NICLAS HAVELID) 8:56
    PHI - (PP) MIKE RICHARDS 22 (DANIEL BRIERE) 9:25
    ATL - ERIC BOULTON 4 (GARNET EXELBY, CHRI

    Feb 5 9:49 PM


  • NHL
    PHILADELPHIA 3
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: PHI - STEVE DOWNIE 4 (SCOTT HARTNELL) 15:31

    Flyers vs. ThrashersFeb 5 9:48 PM
  • 15
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Flyers vs. ThrashersFeb 5 9:09 PM
  • 10
    roots
    SuketoKetchi Added 5 roots

    Flyers vs. ThrashersFeb 5 9:05 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 1 1 2
    ATLANTA 0 2 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PHI - (PP) MIKE KNUBLE 20 (MIKE RICHARDS, SIMON GAGNE) 1:39
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 39 (TODD WHITE, NICLAS HAVELID) 8:56
    PHI - (PP) MIKE RICHARDS 22 (DANIEL BRIERE) 9:25
    ATL - ERIC BOULTON 4 (GARNET

    Feb 5 8:39 PM


  • NHL
    PHILADELPHIA 2
    ATLANTA 2
    2ND PRD: ATL - ERIC BOULTON 4 (GARNET EXELBY, CHRIS THORBURN) 18:48

    Flyers vs. ThrashersFeb 5 8:39 PM


  • NHL
    PHILADELPHIA 2
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: PHI - (PP) MIKE RICHARDS 22 (DANIEL BRIERE) 9:25

    Flyers vs. ThrashersFeb 5 8:20 PM


  • NHL
    PHILADELPHIA 1
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 39 (TODD WHITE, NICLAS HAVELID) 8:56

    Flyers vs. ThrashersFeb 5 8:17 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PHILADELPHIA 1 1
    ATLANTA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PHI - (PP) MIKE KNUBLE 20 (MIKE RICHARDS, SIMON GAGNE) 1:39
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PHI 16 16
    ATL 11 11
    GOALIES: PHI - ANTERO NIITTY

    Feb 5 7:43 PM


  • NHL
    PHILADELPHIA 1
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: PHI - (PP) MIKE KNUBLE 20 (MIKE RICHARDS, SIMON GAGNE) 1:39

    Flyers vs. ThrashersFeb 5 7:13 PM
  • 5
    roots
    UltimateSensfan Added 5 roots

    Flyers vs. ThrashersFeb 5 11:56 AM