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Forsberg scores twice, Flyers halt skid with 3-0 win

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Robert Esche stayed prepared while he and
the Philadelphia Flyers got off to a rocky start this season.

The Blackhawks were shut out for the third consecutive game on Monday, this time by the Flyers, 3-0. It's the first time in nearly 32 years that Chicago has been blanked in three straight games. The last time it happened, in Nov. 1974, the Black Hawks (then with a space in their nickname), lost to the Atlanta Flames (who did not move to Calgary until 1980), Canucks and California Golden Seals (who moved to Cleveland and then dissolved in 1978).

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Peter Forsberg scored twice, including a spectacular goal in the
third period, and Esche recorded his 10th career shutout in the
Flyers' 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night.

"I think my practices the last week have been some of my best
practices that I've had all season," said Esche, who making his
third start of season.

Esche stopped 26 shots in his first win. He was especially sharp
in the second period when he made 15 saves and helped kill three
Chicago power plays.

It was only the third win in 11 games for the Flyers (3-7-1),
off to one of their poorest starts in franchise history. The
Blackhawks have dropped five straight after winning three of four.

Esche was aided by defenseman Denis Gauthier, who made a diving
stop of a shot by former Flyer Patrick Sharp in the front of the
net midway through the third period.

"Our team was magnificent," Esche said. "They played great.
All of our defensemen ... there was a lot of great play all over
the place."

Chicago's Brian Boucher, a first-round draft pick of the Flyers
in 1995, was almost as effective in stopping 32 of 34 shots.
Boucher played for the third straight game, replacing Nikolai
Khabibulin, who is expected to be sidelined up to two weeks because
of a broken finger.

"It's frustrating losing, but we've got to stay with it,"
Boucher said. "We can't get discouraged."

Forsberg put the Flyers ahead 7:25 in with a backhander after
taking a pass from Stefan Ruzicka. The Flyers captain made it 2-0
with a brilliant goal at 11:57 of the third. Forsberg stickhandled
around Sharp and slid a backhander past Boucher.

"That's why he's a world class player," Boucher said. "A
couple of breakdowns there and he made us pay. That's what good
players do."

Forsberg preferred to talk about Philadelphia's improved
defense. The Flyers were beaten 8-2 against Pittsburgh on Saturday.

"We wanted to play much tighter defense than we did against
Pittsburgh," Forsberg said. "We didn't give them two many
chances, we kept them on the outside."

Simon Gagne added an empty-net goal with 28 seconds left.

The Blackhawks missed an early scoring opportunity when Craig
MacDonald hit the crossbar and right post with a shot.

An apparent goal by Philadelphia's Jeff Carter at 2:58 of the
third period, while the Flyers had a two-man advantage, was waved
off because an official's whistle blew before the puck went into
the net.

"The (four) penalties in the third period kind of took away the
momentum for us," Chicago coach Trent Yawney said.

Game notes
The Blackhawks have lost seven straight road games to the
Flyers. Their last win in Philadelphia was Nov. 9, 1996. ...
Chicago RW Reed Low, D Danny Richmond, and C Jeffrey Hamilton were
healthy scratches. ... Philadelphia RW Mike Knuble is out for two
weeks because of a broken finger, an injury sustained Saturday
against Pittsburgh. He hadn't missed a game since joining the
Flyers, dressing for 92 regular-season games and six in the
playoffs. ... The Flyers outshot the Blackhawks 17-5 in the first
period.