Upshall helps Flyers solve Backstrom

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) — Despite their recent offensive
struggles, the Philadelphia Flyers found a way to beat All-Star
Niklas Backstrom.

Scottie Upshall scored a goal and set up another as the Flyers
extended their home winning streak to seven games Thursday with
a 3-1 triumph over the Minnesota Wild.

Scott Hartnell and Mike Knuble also tallied for Philadelphia,
which improved to 11-0-2 in its last 13 games at the Wachovia

“It’s nice to have confidence at home,” Flyers captain Mike
Richards said. “If we get behind, it’s nice to see everyone
keep going. Tonight, I didn’t think that we had our legs, but
it was encouraging to see the guys battle through it and get a

“To play in front of the home fans gave us energy. We were flat
in the first (period), but we came out of it and the fans gave
the energy coming out of the second.”

Martin Biron made 27 saves for the Flyers, who have won four
straight meetings with the Wild.

Stephane Veilleux scored and Backstrom stopped 20 shots for
Minnesota, which fell to 2-1-0 on its four-game road trip and
10-2-1 against Eastern Conference opponents this season.

“I don’t think that we played bad,” Minnesota’s Antti Miettinen
said. “There were some things, little parts of the game that we
didn’t do well, like the power play. Once they got it to 2-1,
we couldn’t push back.”

Hartnell’s goal, which was set up by Upshall – just over seven
minutes into the second period snapped Backstrom’s shutout
streak at 149 minutes, 14 seconds – a franchise record. The
All-Star entered the contest having posted back-to-back shutouts
over Colorado and Boston, both on the road.

“We don’t care about the shutouts,” Backstrom said. “That is in
the past. We want to win every game, and we lost it at the end.
That is the only thing that matters.”

Philadelphia was spectacular while shorthanded, successfully
killing all eight of Minnesota’s power-play opportunities.

“I was very happy with the penalty-killers, just not happy with
the penalty-takers,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “It seemed
like every guy in the box was a penalty-killer, and that kind of
shortens your bench even more, but I thought the guys were
terrific. (The Wild) run (the power play) from the back of the
net, which is different from any other team we’ve seen, and they
do a good job with it. I thought “Chief” (assistant coach Craig
Berube) gave (the penalty-killers) really good reads, and the
guys’ execution was terrific.”

“We’ve kind of struggled lately on the penalty kill,” Hartnell
added. “It’s a big confidence-booster, for sure, for the six or
seven guys who kill for us.”

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Biron was especially pleased with his team’s success while down
a skater, while Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire felt entirely
different about his club’s power-play unit.

“I’m sure glad penalty-killing was a big boost for us,” he said.
“It made the difference.”

“You can’t have (eight) power plays and don’t barely get a
couple of chances to score,” Lemaire said. “You can’t win games
like that. It’s impossible.”

Hartnell, who was called for three minor penalties, was not
happy with the referees afterward.

“It seemed like everything we did, (the Wild) were either
falling down and getting the calls, or we were just trying to
give a guy an extra shot,” he said. “It seemed like (the
officials) were calling it on us all night.”

The Flyers, who managed just one goal in each of their previous
two games, fell behind in this one as Veilleux received a pass
from behind the net by rookie Cal Clutterbuck and beat Biron
from the doorstep with 7:49 remaining in the first period.

But it was all Philadelphia after that as Hartnell converted a
cross-crease pass from alone on the right side of the net at
7:10 of the middle session to forge a 1-1 tie and extend the
left wing’s home points streak to seven games.

Knuble put the Flyers ahead for good during a power play 5:10
into the third, when Richards’ shot from above the right faceoff
circle deflected off the right wing and trickled toward the goal
line before Backstrom inadvertently nudged it in.

“The shot was tipped in front of me and they crashed the net,”
Backstrom said. “That’s hockey nowadays. Every team crashes
the net.”

“We were waiting around all game killing penalties, waiting for
our chance,” Upshall said. “Richie made a great play and Mike
was our big body in front of the net. Gags (Simon Gagne) was
there to make sure any rebounds went in the net. They didn’t
give us much, but we took advantage of our opportunities.”

The tally was Knuble’s 200th career point as a Flyer.

Upshall gave Philadelphia some breathing room with 7:42
remaining, leading a 2-on-1 rush down the right wing and beating
Backstrom to the glove side with a wrist shot from the faceoff
circle. It capped the second multi-point performance of the
season for Upshall, who had not tallied since December 11.

“I happened to knock down a pass from (Minnesota’s Andrew)
Brunette and I chipped it by their defenseman,” Upshall said.
“It was a mad dash to the net from there. I felt like I had a
pretty good angle to shoot. It looked like I had the glove side
open. It was a good shot and I placed it well.”