Handzus leads Flyers in 'defining game'


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- In a game they considered a measuring stick,
the Philadelphia Flyers responded with perhaps their best
performance of the season.

Michal Handzus had a goal and assist, leading the Flyers to
their sixth straight victory, 3-2 over the Detroit Red Wings in a matchup of first-place teams Saturday.

"We only play Detroit once. We know they are always one of the
best teams in the West. We want to be the best team in the East so
this is a good showdown,'' Handzus said.

Jeremy Roenick and Radovan Somik also scored for the Atlantic
Division-leading Flyers, who are second behind Ottawa in the
Eastern Conference.

Henrik Zetterberg and Brett Hull scored for Detroit, which leads
the Central Division. The Red Wings had won seven of 10.

Hull was quite upset with the performance of the defending
Stanley Cup champions.

"I don't think this was a game where it comes down to
chances,'' he said. "It comes down to what team wants it more and
what team plays like they want it more. Until it gets desperate in
the third period, we lately haven't seemed to have had any of that.
We need some better leadership and some better play out of

Flyers goaltender Roman Cechmanek stopped 21 shots, including
two solids saves on Brendan Shanahan in the third period, an
outstanding glove save on a shot by Hull in the last minute and a
chest save on a slap shot by Sergei Fedorov in the final seconds.

Curtis Joseph had 26 saves for Detroit.

"It wasn't as crisp as you'd like,'' Red Wings coach Dave Lewis
said. "A lot of the guys worked pretty hard to try to get
something done and some guys could work a little harder. If some
guys that picked up their game, that could be the difference.''

Roenick gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead on his 15th goal with 1:52
left in the first period. Roenick picked up a loose puck near
center ice after Red Wings center Boyd Devereaux slipped, skated
down the left side, made a nifty move around defenseman Chris
Chelios and slid a shot that bounced off Joseph's pad and went over
his shoulder.

"It was a turnover and I was able to get a step on Chelly,''
Roenick said. "You don't get a chance too often to get a step on
Chelly and I took advantage.''

Handzus redirected a slap shot by Eric Weinrich between Joseph's
legs for a 3-1 lead just 41 seconds into the second period.

Hull cut it to 3-2 with his 18th goal off a nice setup by Pavel
Datsyuk early in the third period. Despite falling to the ice as he
skated toward the net, Datsyuk backhanded a pass to Hull, who
wristed it past Cechmanek for his fifth goal in four games.

The Red Wings took a 1-0 lead on Zetterberg's eighth goal 7:31
into the first. Zetterberg skated around Flyers defenseman Eric
Desjardins, forced Cechmanek to make an ill-advised diving attempt
at his stick and lifted a shot into the top left corner.

Just 15 seconds later, Somik tied it on his second goal. Donald
Brashear's slap shot off a pass from Handzus bounced off Joseph's
left shoulder and went right to Somik, who easily tapped in the

"We wanted to see how our game matched up against Detroit,''
Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We wanted to see if the way we
play to win hockey games is competitive enough. I think we did all
right. We deserve a lot of credit for the way we played. We played
with a lot of confidence.''

Game notes
Detroit lost for just the fifth time in 26 games when
scoring first. ... The Flyers are 15-0-1 when they score at least
three goals. ... The Red Wings haven't won in Philadelphia since
beating the Flyers 4-1 on Jan. 25, 1997. ... Chelios returned after
missing four games with a leg injury. ... Flyers defenseman Chris
Therien returned after missing four games with a concussion. ...
The sellout crowd of 19,654 at the First Union Center broke into
chants of E-A-G-L-E-S several times during the game. The Eagles
played the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC divisional playoff across the
street at Veterans Stadium on Saturday night.