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Derian Hatcher's goal gives Flyers 1-0 victory over Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Flyers' Derian Hatcher scored a rare goal at a most opportune time.

The defenceman's second goal this season, along with 38 stops by goalie Antero Niittymaki, helped Philadelphia beat the Florida Panthers 1-0 on Sunday.

"It's always nice to score. What more can I say?" said Hatcher, who has just 80 goals in 1,022 career games.

It was the third career shutout and first of the season for Niittymaki, who has appeared in 111 games over parts of four seasons with the Flyers.

Florida goalie Tomas Vokoun matched Niittymaki well into the third period, when the Flyers' Stefan Ruzicka fired a wrist shot from the left circle. The puck deflected off Florida defenceman Bryan Allen and wound up with Hatcher, who fired it past Vokoun at 9:14 for the decisive goal.

"Ruzicka made a good play to try to get it through to the net and it just popped on my stick," Hatcher said.

Much to the dismay of the Panthers.

"You think you make the right play and they get a break like that," Allen said. "It's pretty unfortunate."

Vokoun, who was pulled early during Friday night's 5-1 loss to Montreal, stopped 19 of 20 shots for the Panthers.

"We doubled them in shots, doubled them in chances," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "Their goaltender shut the door on us."

Florida had beaten the Flyers five straight times.

"I think our team is finding ways to win right now," Philadelphia coach John Stevens said. "The talk before was that we were finding ways to lose and letting games slip away. We didn't play our best hockey tonight, but we played a team that was desperate and we're having different people stepping up and finding ways to win."

Niittymaki's leg save stopped Radek Dvorak's back-hander on a penalty shot at 18:52 of the first period, one of 14 he made in the period. Philadelphia, meanwhile, managed just three shots on goal in the frame.

Niittymaki withstood another Panthers flurry in the game's final seconds.

"If you shoot at his pads and glove every time, you definitely make him look good," Florida's Olli Jokinen said.

Notes: Panthers LW David Booth returned after missing eight games with a bruised right knee. ... Jokinen had his seven-game point streak snapped. ... It was the second game of Philadelphia's six-game road trip. The Flyers won 4-2 at Tampa Bay on Saturday night. ... Several Flyers criticized the condition of the ice. "Every time I tried to handle the puck, you had no clue where it was going and it hurts the game," Danny Briere said. "This was one of the worst I've seen, but luckily we found a way to get it done. It's not an excuse to win or to lose because both teams have to play on the same ice. But for the fans, they should be allowed to watch a better show than what was put on the ice tonight, and I feel bad for them and I apologize."


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