General manager Paul Holmgren gave coach John Stevens a vote of confidence _ deservedly so _ before the Flyers ended their season-starting, six-game winless streak with an impressive 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils in Newark tonight.

    “I think if things continue to go like they’re going, we have to start changing some people around,” Holmgren said prior to the elusive win. “I don’t mean coaches; I mean other people. Changing the coach sends the wrong message. I believe we’re a good team. I believe that we lost three and (tied) three is a little misleading…I think we’re better than that.”


    The Flyers (1-3-3) then made Martin Brodeur look like an average goalie instead of a future Hall of Famer. They dominated the game after the first period and were led by Mike Richards' career-high four assists and Scott Hartnell's two goals, including an empty netter.
   Another positive: The power play was 2 for 4 and is 4 for 7 in the last two games.
   The Sarah Palin Curse is over.
   So is the New Jersey Curse. The Flyers had been 0-11-1 in NJ since March 9, 2004.
   * * * * * * * *
    Before the game, the Flyers learned that their leading scorer, Danny Briere, would have abdominal surgery Saturday and will miss three to four weeks.
    Glen Metropolit stepped into Briere's spot on the top line and played admirably, especially on defense.
   Goalie Marty Biron allowed three first-period goals _ one deflected off teammate Braydon Coburn _ and then shut down the Devils (5-2) the rest of the way.

   _ Sam Carchidi