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Nedved scores winning goal in third period

3/22/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- After not playing a game in more than a month,
all Dan Blackburn needed was 15 minutes to save the New York
Rangers' season.

Blackburn made 28 saves in a spectacular relief effort and Petr
Nedved scored the winning goal late in the third period as the New
York Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 Saturday.

''It really helped that I found out during intermission that I
was going into the game,'' said Blackburn, who replaced goaltender
Mike Dunham at the start of the second period after Dunham pulled a
hamstring. ''It gave me time to get focused and get a little
stretch in.''

The 15 minutes and the little stretch was all that was necessary
for Blackburn, who turned away everything the Flyers sent at him.

''He has always looked good in practice,'' said Rangers coach
Glen Sather. ''We have told him to make sure he is always ready,
because nobody knows when the next time you are going to have to go
in and perform. He stepped up and played very well for us today.''

The victory kept the Rangers' slim playoff hopes going in the
Eastern Conference. They trail the Islanders by four points after
New Jersey's 4-2 victory on Long Island on Saturday night.

It was only the Flyers' second defeat of the season (24-2-5-1)
when leading after the first period. Philadelphia is four points
behind the Devils for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Nedved scored his 25th goal when he took a shot from the top of
the right circle that glanced off the butt end of goaltender Robert
Esche's stick and into the net with 3:12 remaining in the third
period.

''I got a little bit lucky, no question about it,'' said Nedved.
''If we wouldn't have gotten two points this afternoon, I think our
playoff chances would have slowly disappeared. We knew before the
game that we pretty much need to win every game for the rest of the
season.''

Ted Donato also scored for the Rangers, who won their third
in a row and first on the road in five games.

Anson Carter picked up assists on both Rangers goals.

''We have so much firepower on this team that in a close hockey
game you can throw seven or eight different guys over the boards
that can make the big play,'' Carter said.

Claude Lapointe gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead when he stripped the
puck from Jamie Lundmark and banged a shot off the post past Dunham
midway in the first period.

The Flyers were not impressed by New York. Esche said he felt the Flyers
dominated the entire game.

''We outplayed them a lot,'' he said. ''They sure didn't look
like a team fighting for a playoff spot. Either that, or we are
just that much better.''

Game notes
Dunham's career best shutout streak of 144:47 was snapped
on Lapointe's goal. ... Alexei Kovalev has no points in eight
consecutive games for the Rangers. ... Esche started his third
consecutive game in place of the injured Roman Cechmanek (groin).
... The Flyers recalled goaltender Neil Little from the AHL's
Philadelphia Phantoms to replace Cechmanek. ... Jeremy Roenick,
Eric Desjardins and Tony Amonte each had a five-game points streak
snapped. ... The Rangers' Dan LaCouture played in his 200th NHL
game. ... Forwards Simon Gagne (groin), Justin Williams (knee),
Radovan Somik (back), and Todd Fedoruk (wrist) remained sidelined
for the Flyers.