BOSTON – The Philadelphia Flyers are all back together – just in time to be shaken up again at the trading deadline.
Simon Gagne had two goals and an assist and Mike Knuble had a goal and two assists to lead Philadelphia to a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. The Flyers have won six of their last nine games to solidify their hold on fourth place in the Eastern Conference and a potential home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re in a playoff spot now, and what we do is going to affect where we go,” Philadelphia coach John Stevens said. “I think our focus right now has to be on us.”
Antero Nittymaki stopped 22 shots and Scottie Upshall also scored as the Flyers played their second game since the return of Danny Briere, who missed the previous 36 games with a groin and stomach injury. They also welcomed back Kimmo Timmonen, who was out the previous four games with the flu.
The NHL trading deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m., and the reunited Flyers could be split apart once again.
“I’m sure tomorrow will be a little bit of a tense day for some of us,” said Knuble, who was traded from the Rangers to the Bruins at the 2000 deadline. “This team has a chance to do something.”
Patrice Bergeron and Stephane Yelle scored for Boston and Manny Fernandez made 22 saves for Boston. The East-leading Bruins have lost eight of their last 11, and rumours abound with potential moves for Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli.
“We’re not showing a lot of chemistry and emotion right now. We’ve got to pick up the consistency,” forward Michael Ryder said. “We know we have a good team and we know we can win. If management thinks they can do something that can help us, that’s good.”
Bergeron, who missed most of last season with a severe concussion after being hit into the boards by Flyers defenceman Randy Jones, scored on a slap shot from the left circle for a 1-0 lead late in the first period.
But Philadelphia scored four straight.
Upshall scored when he intercepted Marc Savard’s pass at the blue line and moved in on Fernandez to make it 1-1 with 1:49 gone in the second period. Gagne made it 2-1 when he deflected Andrew Alberts’ shot into the net 2:22 into the third. The Flyers took a 3-1 lead when Knuble took a backhand pass from Gagne in front of the net and beat Fernandez.
Gagne made it 4-1 with 3:34 left on a power play when he stayed to Fernandez’s right and waited for the pass, stick-handling it until the goalie made a move and then shooting it over him into the net.
Yelle deflected a shot by Mark Stuart into the net on a power play with 42 seconds left to make it 4-2.
The Bruins missed a good chance late in the second period when Byron Bitz shot the puck off the post and Nittymaki’s back. It landed in the crease, but the goalie fell backward to freeze it and keep it out of the net.
Notes: The Flyers recalled F Claude Giroux from their AHL affiliate and reassigned D Nate Guenin and F Jared Ross to the Phantoms. … Knuble played in his 800th NHL game. … Bruins forward Milan Lucic missed his third straight game with an unspecified injury. … Fernandez is 6-3-2 in his last 11 starts. … The home team has lost all three matchups between teams this season.