PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Simon Gagne is proving he can be a premier
goal scorer in the new NHL.
"He's built a great foundation of two-way hockey," Flyers
coach Ken Hitchcock said of Gagne. "He's a heavy player. He scores
greedy goals. He scores three goals tonight, but the three plays he
makes in the third period tonight in our (defensive) zone were
Gagne leads the NHL with 15 goals, and has scored five goals in
his last three games. Forsberg leads the league with 21 assists.
The Flyers' top line of Gagne, Forsberg and Mike Knuble accounted
for three of the Flyers' four goals in the win.
"Simon is kind of everywhere right now," Forsberg said. "He's
putting the puck in the net, and he's making me and Mike (Knuble)
just enjoy the ride."
Forsberg had assisted on each of Gagne's goals this season
before his linemate's second goal.
"It's been a great time playing with Peter and Mike on the same
line," Gagne said. "We got a couple again tonight. I feel pretty
good right now."
Gagne's first hat trick came in March 2002 in New York against
the Rangers, in a game the Flyers lost. Since then, Gagne believes
he's developed into a more complete player.
"I'm having a great time right now," he said. "The last two
years have been a little tough, but this year, I'm enjoying to play
the game again. I'm excited when I come to practice and every game.
I enjoy every game and every shift."
Robert Esche made 28 saves and won his fourth straight game for
Atlanta outshot Philadelphia 26-11 in the last two periods,
including 13-3 in the third.
Philadelphia had a two-man advantage when Gagne opened the
scoring 3:46 in, redirecting Forsberg's pass and beating Dunham to
the stick side.
Forsberg added to the lead with less than 2 minutes remaining in
the period, scoring his fourth goal on his own rebound after a pass
from Gagne. Hossa scored Atlanta's first goal 8 minutes into the
second on a power play, beating Esche to the stick side.
Hossa, who has six power-play goals this season, has recorded a
point in 10 of 14 games.
Esche stopped Marc Savard on a breakaway seconds later,
preserving Philadelphia's lead. Gagne scored his second goal less
than 2 minutes into the third period with Philadelphia on another
two-man advantage. He beat Dunham with a shot from the slot.
"They're good players," Dunham said of Gagne and Forsberg.
"You give players like that 5-on-3 chances, they're going to take
advantage of it."
After Peter Bondra cut the lead to 3-2, Gagne scored his third
goal with less than 5 minutes left, beating Dunham while lying on
the ice. Serge Aubin made it a 4-3 game 52 seconds later, beating
Esche on the short side.
^Notes:@ Philadelphia has won three straight and four of its
last five, and improves to 6-1 at home on the season. ... Peter
Forsberg has four goals and eight assists in his last four games.
... Flyers defenseman Eric Desjardins, a 17-year veteran, missed
his first game after sustaining a concussion Thursday vs.
Washington. He is out indefinitely. ... The Flyers have 11
power-play goals in their last five games after getting eight in
the first seven, and have scored a goal on the man-advantage in
nine straight. ... Thrashers left wing Vyacheslav Kozlov assisted
on Hossa's goal, extending his points streak to six games.