It took 16 homes games, but the Flyers finally found a way to allow their fans to relax in the third period.

They scored four power-play goals _ equaling their most since last March against the Islanders _ and coasted past the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-3, before a sellout crowd today at the Wachovia Center.

Remarkably, every one of the Flyers' previous 15 homes games wasn't decided until the final minute. Or later.

Fourteen of their home games were decided by one goal; the only game that wasn't decided by a goal was a 5-3 Montreal win, one that included an empty-netter.

So, in esssense, this was the first home game not decided by one goal this season.

Mike Knuble scored two power-play goals, while Kimmo Timonen added four assists _ all on the power play _ as the Flyers took sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Division. Theyalso  moved within two points of first place, pending the Rangers' result later tonight.

The Flyers were 4 for 6 on the power play, while Pittsburgh was 1 for 4.

"Special teams won this game," said Knuble, who ended an eight-game goal-less streak and now has 12 goals.

Matt Carle, who had missed five games with a back/rib injury, returned to the lineup and contributed two pretty assists.

Jeff Carter and Mike Richards also added a goal and two assists each.

Am I the only one who thinks Richards is playing like a young Bobby Clarke? I'm not saying he's as good as Clarke, but he's getting there. He and Carter shut down Sidney Crosby (0 points) and Evgeni Malin (one assist) and helped the Flyers increase their record to a flashy 12-1-3 in their last 16 games. Crosby and Malkin were booed every time they touched the puck today.

On Knuble's first goal, Richards used some clever stickhandling to keep the puck in the zone. Richards eventually shook free for a shot form the slot, and Knuble knocked in the rebound.

"That's my job on the power play _ to hang around the net," Knuble said.

The Flyers were sharp as they built a 2-0 first-period lead, carrying the momentum from Thursday's epic 6-5 shoot-out win over Carolina. In that game, the Flyers overcame a 5-1 third-period deficit _ their best late-game comeback in their 41-year history.

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In the third period, a fan wearing a Penguins jersey was escorted out of the building after he scuffled with a cameraman in the stands. The cameraman received a loud ovation.

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The Flyers resume action Tuesday against visiting Colorado, a team that whipped Philadelphia, 5-2, on Oct. 16. After that game, the Flyers were 0-3-1 and the players held a team meeting that jump-started the season.

_ Sam Carchidi