Flyers end Backstrom's shutout streak in win

January 8, 2009 6:46:22 PM PST
Mike Knuble, Scott Hartnell and Scottie Upshall scored goals and the Philadelphia Flyers returned home from two weeks on the road to beat the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Thursday night. Hartnell's tying goal in the second period ended Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom's bid for three straight shutouts. Backstrom, selected to the Western Conference All-Star team this week, stretched his shutout streak to 149 minutes, 9 seconds before Hartnell flipped a loose puck past him early in the second.

Knuble put the Flyers ahead early in the third period on Philadelphia's first power-play opportunity, and Upshall added his sixth goal to help the Flyers win their seventh straight home game. With the victory, the Flyers took sole possession of the Atlanta Division lead, two points ahead of the New York Rangers.

The Flyers hadn't played at home since Dec. 23 and went 2-2-2 on a six game, 12-day trip. They returned to a familiar setting - another packed, orange-clad crowd, chants of "Let's go Fly-ers!" and more home dominance. The Flyers are 11-0-2 in their last 13 games at the Wachovia Center and play there two more times before heading back on the road.

They might have former All-Star Danny Briere back in the lineup. Briere has played in only nine games this season because of groin injuries, but is close to a return.

Backstrom was coming off shutouts against Colorado and Boston and entered with a shutout streak of 121:59. He kept the Flyers scoreless in the first and needed only a scoreless minute in the second period to beat his previous personal best time of 142:57. Hartnell, though, caught him with his 16th goal of the season 7:10 into the period to make it 1-1 and end the scoreless stretch at 149:09. He finished with 20 saves.

The Wild had supported Backstrom with a solid power play, scoring at least one goal with a line advantage in four straight games. The power play miserably failed in this one, as the Wild went 0-for-4 in the second period against Martin Biron and failed to convert on all eight opportunities.

Biron had 27 saves for the Flyers.

Backstrom fell flat on his back trying to stave off a Flyers push in the third, but Knuble poked his jabbed his stick in behind him and knocked his 15th goal for a 2-1 lead. The goal came only 7 seconds into the Flyers' first power-play opportunity of the game. Upshall sealed the win with his sixth goal of the season.

Stephane Veilleux gave the Wild a 1-0 lead in the first period on a one-timer. Minnesota fell to 10-2-1 against the East this season and 6-1 since Oct. 30.

Notes: Flyers C Jeff Carter was added to the Eastern Conference All-Star team. ... This is the only game of the season between the two teams. ... Each of Veilleux's six goals have either tied the game or given the Wild the lead. ... The Wild hadn't played at Philadelphia since Dec. 10, 2005. ... Knuble scored his 200th point with the Flyers.