By Tim Panaccio Philadelphia Inquirer --- Janurary 28, 2001
RALEIGH, N.C. - Simon Gagne is too young to remember the television drama thirtysomething, but he's not too young to know he's flirting with 30-something goals.
The sophomore forward notched his club-high 22d goal yesterday as the Flyers rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3, at the Sports and Entertainment Arena.
Gagne's magnificent burst into stardom has now seen him score the game-winner in three of the Flyers' last four games, all victories.
"He's a good player, and he's only going to get better," coach Bill Barber said.
Gagne's seven game-winners lead the club. He has five goals and seven points in his last four games.
"Sometimes you are on a streak and everything goes to the net," Gagne said. "I know I had a tough time after the Christmas break, where I went [five] games without a goal."
The last time the Flyers had rallied from a two-goal deficit was on Nov. 29 when they defeated the Blue Jackets, 4-3, in Columbus.
Yesterday's game was a seesaw battle much of the way, with the teams tied at 3-3 in the third period.
The Flyers were on a power play when Keith Primeau was nailed for interfering with the Hurricanes' Martin Gelinas. On the subsequent four-on-four, Flyers defenseman Eric Desjardins contained the puck along the wall and then backhanded it toward the net. Gagne, angling to the side and fighting off Canes defenseman Glen Wesley, sucked goalie Arturs Irbe out, then backhanded the puck inside the post at 10 minutes, 8 seconds.
"I saw him standing there and tried to put it in there for him," Desjardins said. "He made a great play. He's got 22 goals. There's a reason why. He's very patient and calm around the net."
Gagne had a space maybe as wide as a stick blade in which to shoot the puck, with Wesley, Irbe and the post blocking him.
"I did not have much to shoot at," he said.
Just enough to win it.
Equally big in this game was Paul Ranheim's shorthanded goal in the second period, with the Flyers trailing by 3-1.
"I think that goal got us back into feeling we were in there," Ranheim said. "We were on our heels a little bit."
With Carolina on the power play, the Flyers sent a long clearing pass out of their zone and into the Canes' end. Irbe tried to play the puck out of the left defensive corner. By the time he got to it, however, both Ranheim and Kent Manderville were bearing down.
Irbe wanted to clear the puck up the boards, but Manderville blocked his vision, so the goalie abandoned the puck and tried to scurry back to the net. Ranheim shot from the right offensive boards, cutting the Flyers' deficit to 3-2 at 7:05 with his eighth goal.
"I tried to get it off the boards and pick it off," Ranheim said. "The goalie's out of the net, and he couldn't play it off the boards."
The goal was Ranheim's second shorthanded goal of the season and the club's fourth shorthanded goal overall.
The Flyers drew even at 3-all at 16:19. Peter White and P.J. Stock tied up a loose puck along the left boards just as their line went onto the ice. Chris Therien shot the puck from the point, and it deflected off White and past Irbe.
Roman Cechmanek, who had little work and just 15 saves, looked only slightly better in goal than Irbe but notched his 18th victory.
"We're down 3-1, we battled some elements, and yet guys hung in there," Barber said. "We got a bit of the break on the shorthanded goal and came out in the third and found a way to win. Compliment our guys. Our leadership has been there."
Daymond Langkow gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead on the power play with his 10th goal at 3:47 on the power play. That made this the sixth consecutive game the Flyers have scored a power play goal.
The play began with a shot by Desjardins from the right point. The puck hit the stick of teammate Rick Tocchet and went behind the Canes' net. Gagne quickly dug it out and centered it to Langkow, who beat Irbe before the goalie could react.
The Hurricanes came storming back with two goals just 43 seconds apart late in the opening period.
The first Carolina goal, which came at 12:16, resulted from a scrum at the net. Cechmanek had knocked down a shot by Rod Brind'Amour with his chest, but the puck began bouncing around the crease. Cechmanek lost sight of it long enough for Shane Willis to go short side to tie the score.
Jeff O'Neill, who leads Carolina in goals, notched his 22d at 12:59 to give the Canes a 2-1 lead and added a goal on a breakaway early in the second period when the Flyers' Chris McAllister failed to contain the puck at the point.
Still, the Flyers came back.
"It was confidence," Ranheim said. "We knew we weren't playing well. There was no panic. We didn't make it worse. The second goal calmed us down, and we felt back in it."
By a Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Reporter --- Janurary 17, 2001
NEW YORK - Simon Gagne's off-season weight training paid off yesterday with an invitation to the NHL All-Star Game.
Gagne, the Flyers' 20-year-old sophomore left wing, was named as a reserve to the North America squad for the Feb. 4 game in Denver.
"It's unbelievable," Gagne said last night after being chosen to replace San Jose's Vincent Damphousse, who has an shoulder injury. "My second year, I didn't expect to go there. You look at the roster and all the names, it's fantastic to go there."
Gagne added 10 pounds of muscle in the off-season to his 6-foot-1 frame and went to training camp at 190 pounds. The muscle has paid off. He handles himself better on the ice and went into last night's game against the Rangers tied with Keith Primeau for the club lead in goals (17), holding the team lead in points (34), and tied with Rick Tocchet for best plus-minus (plus-14).
Gagne attributes his success this season to his feeling more comfortable on the ice.
"Last year I felt like Justin Williams," he said. "You try to do your best, but you're a rookie and not supposed to make a difference in a game. This year, I feel more comfortable with everyone on the ice."
Today, the remaining players for the World Team will be named, and the Flyers are hoping that the list includes goalie Roman Cechmanek. The NHL league office and team general managers select the reserves.
Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said last night that Gagne has made great strides since injuring his groin early in camp and starting the season slowly.
"Last year, we had Lindros and LeClair, and it was quite a bit different team," Clarke said. "He [Gagne] didn't play much 'til after Christmas, and then we couldn't get him out of the lineup. Simon has top hockey brains and sense. He's going to get better and better."
Flyers coach Bill Barber said Gagne was deserving of the honor.
"It's great for him, especially as his age," Barber said. "He's done a great job obviously and he has a bright future."