Niittymaki "stood on his head"
In isn't every day that a goalie can be declared the difference in a 7-1 win.
Today, however, was one of those games.
The Flyers were badly outplayed for two periods, but Antero Niittymaki was Parent-like as he made 39 saves and carried the club to the win.
After two periods, the Flyers held a 3-0 lead _ two of the goals were scored by Jeff Carter _ but were outshot by a 39-13 margin.
Again, Niittymaki was the difference. He finished with 47 saves as the Flyers improved to 14-2-3 in their last 19 games.
In the first period, the Flyers were oushot, 25-6, but held a 1-0 lead. It was the most shots ever taken in a period by a Flyers opponent on Philadelphia ice.
Niittymaki "basically stood on his head," winger Scott Hartnell said.
"If you throw everything at him and get 25 shots and your down at the end of the period, you usually can't maintain it for three periods," Washington coach Brice Boudreau said.
It was Niitttymaki's best perfomance of the season _ and one of the best of his career.
"Our goalie gave uis a chance to win the game," winger Joffrey Lupul said, and you want to bail him out at that point."
Niittymaki was playing because Marty Biron is still suffering from the flu. Coach John Stevnes isn't sure who will start Sunday afternoon in New Jersey.
In yesterday's win, the Old City Line _ Philly residents Scott Hartnell, Carter and Lupul _ combined for six goals and 12 points. They each had four points. Hartnell had his second hat trick in the last five games. (Fans threw hats on the ice after one of Hartnell's goals, mistakenly thinking it was Carter who had tipped in a shot and scored his first career hat trick. Later, Hartnell DID score a hat trick.)
For whatever reason, ever since his infamous glove toss at a player going in on a breakaway, Hartnell has been one of the Flyers' top players.
Center Glen Metropolit missed the game with a back injury, and Lasse Kukkonen took 10 shifts up front. Look for Randy Jones to play his first game with the Flyers this season in New Jersey today. Jones, who had a brief rehab stint with the AHL Phantoms, appears to have fully recovered from hip surgery.
The best guess from here is that Andrew Alberts will be a healthy scratch today if Jones plays.
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