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October 5, 2001 - Birthday present for Williams: 2 goals

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Birthday present for Williams: 2 goals

Justin Williams celebrated his 20th birthday in style last night. The speedy Flyers right winger played alongside fiery center Jeremy Roenick in the team's home opener against the Florida Panthers and contributed a pair of goals.

"This is where I wanted to be at the beginning of the season," Williams said. "That was one of my goals - to play with him."

Williams also had an assist on a first-period goal by Eric Weinrich.

Roenick had one piece of advice for his line before the game.

"Jeremy said our biggest asset is our speed," Williams said. "He said to make sure and use that on the forecheck."

Williams scored 12 goals as a rookie last season. He has a more ambitious plan this season.

"I'd like to get somewhere around 20 and 20," he said, meaning 20 goals and 20 assists. "Somewhere near there. It depends on my role this year - whether I stay on the top two lines or if I go to a fourth line."

Last night, he played on a line with Roenick and Simon Gagne.

Not all of the Flyers were aware it was Williams' birthday yesterday. Some shook his hand. One player, in particular, went out of his way. Center Keith Primeau and his wife, Lisa, had Williams over for dinner Wednesday night.

"She made me lasagna," Williams said of Lisa Primeau. "She's the best. They invited me over last season, and they didn't quite know who I was. They've been very nice to me."

No cake?

"I don't like cake," he said. "But she made me a pie."

Beautiful duet. In a surprise that had the First Union Center rocking, Lauren Hart sang a "duet" with the late Kate Smith before last night's game. Through the miracle of video technology, the two performed "God Bless America" as the Jumbotron showed the images of both singers. Hart also was accompanied by a choir. The fans were emotional, and their cheers were thunderous. It may have been the loudest the First Union Center has ever been. The late Gene Hart, Lauren's father and the Flyers' former play-by-play announcer, would have gotten a kick out of it.

Scratches. Jesse Boulerice, Paul Ranheim and Chris McAllister were healthy scratches. Rick Tocchet remains on injured reserve with a sore left knee. Todd Fedoruk was in the lineup because Florida dressed its enforcer, Peter Worrell. Worrell fought Luke Richardson in the opening period.