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Ron Hextall is first NHL goaltender to score playoff goal

By WILL DUNHAM, UPI Sports Writer

LANDOVER, Md. -- Ron Hextall became the first NHL goaltender to score in a playoff game, capping Philadelphia's four-goal third period Tuesday night en route to an 8-5 rout of the Washington Capitals that pushed the Flyers to a 3-2 lead in the first round of Stanley Cup playoffs.

Brian Propp scored once and set up Pelle Eklund's winner during a power play before Hextall scored into an empty net at 18:58. Jeff Chychrun had been in the penalty box for cross-checking since 17:27.

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The Flyers can clinch the best-of-seven Patrick Division semifinal at home Thursday. Game 7, if necessary, will be played Saturday at the Capital Centre.

Tim Kerr contributed two goals and two assists to aid Philadelphia, which trailed most of the game, then scored the final four goals

Propp tied the score 5-5 at 8:03 of the third period from the slot after the puck bounced to him off the helmet of Washington's Mike Ridley.

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Eklund scored past goalie Pete Peeters' glove side from the low slot off Propp's backhand pass from behind the net at 13:57. Defenseman Kjell Samuelsson's unassisted goal at 16:32 gave the Flyers a 7-5 lead.

After the Capitals pulled Peeters for an extra attacker, Hextall retrieved an errant pass by Scott Stevens and sent the puck bouncing the length of the ice past defenseman Rod Langway and cleanly into the net.

Hextall, known for his puck-handling skills, already owned the distinction of being the first NHL goaltender to actually shoot the puck into the net -- as opposed to being credited for a deflected goal. Hextall scored off a shot Dec. 8, 1987, becoming the second NHL goalie to receive credit for a goal. In 1979, Islander Billy Smith was credited as the nearest player to a defenseman who had scored.

The Flyers, who finished in fourth place in the division's regular-season standings and posted their worst record since 1972, are on the verge of their first playoff series triumph over the Capitals, who have won both previous series against Philadelphia. Washington, the division's regular-season champion, won its final eight regular-season home games and Game 1 at the Capital Centre before losing their its last two at home in Game 2 and Game 5.

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Washington defenseman Bob Rouse scored off a deflected shot by Geoff Courtnall at 3:11 of the first period but 21 seconds later, Philadelphia's Rick Tocchet tied the score. Mike Bullard's goal off Kerr's pass at 9:35 of the first period put the Flyers up 2-1. Washington's Dave Christian scored during a two-man advantage for a 2-2 tie at 15:53 of the first period.

Michal Pivonka's slap shot from the right circle put the Capitals ahead 3-2 at 4:41 of the second period.

Kerr's slap shot from the left point tied the score 3-3 at 8:57 of the second period. Dino Ciccarelli's power-play goal lifted Washington to a 4-3 lead at 12:31 of the second, 2:01 before Kerr scored off a pass from Eklund during a two-man advantage.

Washington defenseman Calle Johansson scored on a power-play slap shot while teammate Bengt Gustafsson was tangled up in front of the net with Hextall for Washington's a 5-4 Washington lead at 5:35 of the third period.

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