Skip to main content

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."

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."


Jake Oettinger

Why Short-Term Deals Are Better Gambles for NHL Goalies

Adam Proteau argues that the consequences of signing a goalie long-term can hurt a franchise much more than gambling on a short-term contract.

Andrei Kuzmenko

Andrei Kuzmenko Shines in a Conflicting Canucks Season

Andrei Kuzmenko turned his career year in the KHL into an NHL contract. As Tony Ferrari explores, he's now showing promise as a strong two-way forward.

Frank Boucher, Bill Cook, Bun Cook

From the Archives: The Rangers World Premiere in 1926

Madison Square Garden wanted their own NHL team to capitalize on the popularity of New York's original squad. As Stan Fischler details, the Rangers were born.