Flyers best Thrashers, continue dominance

ATLANTA - Antero Nittymaki and the Philadelphia Flyers own the Thrashers, especially in Atlanta.

Nittymaki stopped 23 shots to stay perfect in eight decisions against Atlanta and Steve Downie scored with 4:29 left in the third period to give the Flyers a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Philadelphia has won nine straight against the Thrashers.

The Flyers are 13-2-1 all-time at Atlanta and overall have won 24 of 30 games in the series, including three games this season.

Nittymaki has allowed only 13 goals while going 8-0 against the Thrashers. He earned the start even though Martin Biron had a five-game winning streak, including a shutout of Anaheim in his last start on Saturday night.

A 2-2 tie after the second period lasted through the first 15 minutes of the third period. Scott Hartnell passed to Downie from behind the net, and Downie scored on a slap shot from about 25 feet for the go-ahead goal.

Downie's goal was the only one of the night for the Flyers that did not come on a power play.

Michael Knuble and Mike Richards also scored for Philadelphia.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored early in the second period in his return after missing two games with a knee injury suffered in a knee-on-knee hit from Pittsburgh left winger Jarkko Ruutu last Wednesday.

Eric Boulton scored Atlanta's second goal.

The Flyers boast the league's second-best power play (24.7 percent), while the Thrashers are No. 27 with a 79.4 percent rate on the penalty kill. As the Thrashers' minors began to stack up, those stats became more important.

The Flyers took advantage of their first opportunity with a man advantage. Atlanta's Jim Slater drew a hooking penalty 1:04 into the game, and 35 seconds later Knuble deflected Richards' shot past Kari Lehtonen for a 1-0 lead.

Knuble was coming off his first career hat trick in a 3-0 win over Anaheim on Saturday.

The Thrashers pulled even at 1-1 on Kovalchuk's goal 8:56 into the second. Kovalchuk showed no sign of a sore knee as he used his speed to skate past Randy Jones and Derian Hatcher before scoring his 39th goal.

The Flyers answered only 29 seconds later, again taking advantage of an Atlanta penalty.