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Bruins are no match

Flyers on top of their game in showdown

PHILADELPHIA -- The Bruins and Flyers, who are neck and neck in the standings, referred to last night's game as a litmus test of where they stood with respect to one another.

The verdict? The Bruins still have plenty of work to do. Philadelphia, for two periods, was the better team and it translated into a 3-2 victory at the Wachovia Center. The Flyers remained perfect at home (9-0-2) and overtook Boston at the top of the Eastern Conference.

When asked if this was the best team by far the Bruins had faced this year, coach Mike Sullivan said yes.

"It certainly wasn't a lopsided game," he said. "Both teams had some chances to score. I think we certainly identified some areas where we can be better. Our penalty kill [which gave up one goal on two chances] once again has to find a way to get it done in critical times and we didn't, so that has to improve if we're going to be successful throughout the remainder of the season."

The Bruins did not get off to a good start. In fact, at times, they

were dreadful. The Flyers came out of the gate full of jump and intensity that Boston couldn't come close to matching. "We played an all right game," said captain Joe Thornton, whose line was bottled up by Keith Primeau's all night. "They came out really hopping and really after us and caught us off guard but we came back in the second and played hard. They scored a lucky goal at the end of that period. They're just like our team, they're big and strong and it's going to be a good matchup all year."

Right wing Justin Williams put his team on the board at 6:24 of the first after a fortuitous bounce off the glass. The Bruins, in the process of a line change, were slow to react. Left wing John LeClair, who has struggled for points, skated the puck into the left circle with Hal Gill defending him and fed Williams, who was coming down the slot. Williams fired a shot that beat Andrew Raycroft to the stick side.

Left wing Simon Gagne potted the second Philly goal on a strong individual effort. Driving down the right side, he beat Gill. As Jeff Jillson moved to try to stop him, Gagne flipped the puck up and over Raycroft to the far side at 9:37 for his sixth strike of the season.

Boston's only offensive threat in the period came during a late power play. But although the Bruins were able to set up in the Flyers' zone, they had trouble getting pucks through. When they did, the penalty killers were able to deflect them away.

Philly nearly got a third goal at 17:33 when right wing Tony Amonte collected a rebound outside the right post. His shot hit the post and Raycroft was able to smother it with his glove.

With 1:48 left in the period, Boston got just its third shot when center Brian Rolston set up Travis Green for a one-timer from the right circle. Green got all of it but goalie Jeff Hackett made the stop.

The second period was a different story. The Bruins rallied early, Rolston scoring a pair of goals within 32 seconds as the Bruins pulled even.

The first came on the power play at 1:05. Patrice Bergeron, maneuvering near the left hash marks, dished to Rolston, who beat Hackett with a one-timer from the point.

With the clubs at even strength, Jillson took a shot from the point that Hackett stopped. Rob Zamuner, moved up to the third line to fill in for injured left wing P.J. Axelsson, got the rebound and passed in front to Rolston who backhanded it into the net at 1:37 for his team-high 10th goal.

The Bruins' penalty killing struggle continued and the Flyers retook the lead on the power play. With Gill off for interference, the Flyers' top line of Jeremy Roenick, Mark Recchi, and Amonte cashed in. Amonte, in the right circle, fed Recchi, positioned at the top of the crease. Raycroft tried to get his right pad on it but missed, the pass found its mark, and Recchi directed the puck into the net at 17:45.

After retaking the lead, the Flyers clamped down on defense. The Bruins' only daylight came during a power play late in the third when Recchi was called for slashing Rolston, but the opportunity went for naught.

"We obviously have to find a way to generate more momentum in the third period but they did a good job of playing pretty sound defensively and they played a low-risk period," said Sullivan. "I thought in the second period, we really captured the momentum for a majority of the period and we just couldn't seem to generate enough emotion or momentum in the third."

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