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Associated Press
10/26/2006 10:44:02 PM


PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne each scored in a shootout, lifting Philadelphia to a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night, making Flyers coach John Stevens a winner in his NHL coaching debut.

After Johan Hedberg had 29 saves in regulation and overtime for the Thrashers, he was pulled for Kari Lehtonen. The Flyers jumped all over the goalie change, with Gagne and Forsberg scoring on the Flyers' first two shots.

Vyacheslav Kozlov had the only shootout goal for Atlanta on its first shot. No one else could slip one past steady Antero Niittymaki, who had 27 saves.

This was the boost the Flyers desperately needed five days after Stevens was promoted from first-year assistant to coach, hoping to nudge them out of last place.

The Flyers entered with the worst record and fewest points in the NHL, a shaky start that resulted in one of the most drastic shakeups in team history. Longtime general manager Bob Clarke resigned and coach Ken Hitchcock was fired Sunday with the Flyers on their first five-game losing streak since 2002 and off to their worst start in 17 years.

Forsberg, Gagne and Niittymaki ensured the losing streak wouldn't stretch to six. And while 2-6-1 hardly sounds promising, the win was a strong start to a five-game homestand.

Still bothered by a sprained left wrist that kept him out of one game, Forsberg delivered when needed in an already-big early-season game. Not only that, he scored on a power play.

The Flyers were a measly 4-for-55 on the power play this season, 0-for-15 the last three games, and squandered their only other opportunity against Atlanta. With Andy Sutton still in the box from a second-period holding penalty, Forsberg knocked the puck off Hedberg's pads from close range only 56 seconds into the third for a 2-1 lead.

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