Norm Maracle, returning from a banishment to the bench, posted his first NHL shutout and Dean Sylvester scored the only goal early in the third period last night to help the Atlanta Thrashers end visiting Philadelphia's six-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory over the Flyers.
Maracle became the No. 1 goaltender after Damian Rhodes was injured, but after a 6-0 loss at Nashville on Dec. 30 he sat out the last five games in favor of Scott Fankhouser. Maracle redeemed himself against the Flyers, stopping 26 shots in the first shutout of his 35-game NHL career.
"This was huge for me," Maracle said. "I've been struggling the last couple of weeks. Now, my confidence is back up and hopefully it will continue."
Maracle made several nice saves in the second period, when the Flyers peppered him with 11 shots. He also made a critical save on a backhander by Mikael Renberg with just over three minutes to play.
The Thrashers won before a raucous crowd of 18,571, the largest in their brief history.
After two scoreless periods, the Thrashers capitalized on one of their few scoring opportunities at 2 minutes 57 seconds of the third. Philadelphia failed to clear its zone and Patrik Stefan got loose behind the defense, taking a pass from Maxim Galanov right in front of Brian Boucher.
The Flyers goalie made a fine kick save on Stefan, but Sylvester got up the puck in the right faceoff circle and fired a shot under Boucher's right arm for his 11th goal.
Philadelphia lost for the first time since Dec. 22 at New Jersey. The Flyers had been 6-0-1 in their last seven games.
"[The Thrashers] worked hard and once they got their goal, they were fired up," Flyers Coach Roger Neilson said. "We had a lot of good chances, really, but we just couldn't pull the trigger."
* PANTHERS 5, HURRICANES 1: Pavel Bure and Scott Mellanby scored power-play goals to lead host Florida to its fifth win in six games. The Panthers snapped a seven-game winless streak against the Hurricanes (0-3-4).
Bure, who notched his 30th goal along with an assist, has nine goals and five assists in his last six games. Mellanby's power-play goal at 4:03 of the second period--his 600th career point (267 goals, 333 assists)--gave Florida a 2-1 lead.
* MIGHTY DUCKS 3, BLUES 1: Marty McInnis got the go-ahead goal and Paul Kariya scored a power-play goal as Anaheim ended visiting St. Louis's eight-game unbeaten streak.
Guy Hebert made 36 saves and Ladislav Kohn ended a 12-game goal-scoring drought to help Anaheim snap a seven-game winless streak. The Blues lost their third in 17 games (10-3-4).
* MAPLE LEAFS 3, OILERS 2: Mats Sundin scored at 2:59 of overtime as Toronto rallied from two goals down to win on the road. Sundin sent a shot past goaltender Tommy Salo from the slot on the only shot in overtime. Garry Valk and Igor Korolev scored in the third period for Toronto after Todd Marchant and Ryan Smyth scored in the second period to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead.
* CANADIENS 2, SABRES 1: Rookies Jason Ward and Francis Bouillon each scored his second career goal and Jose Theodore made 14 saves to help Montreal win in Buffalo. Stu Barnes scored for the Sabres, 2-6-1 since Christmas.