No Marty Biron? No problem.
Backup goalie Antero Niittymaki, subbing for the flu-ridden Biron, stopped 29 shots and the Flyers' power play continued to dominate as they defeated the Colorado Avalanche, 5-2, last night at the Wachovia Center.
The Flyers got power-play goals from Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne as they won their fifth straight game and raised their record to 13-1-3 in their last 17 contests.
In their last seven games, the Flyers are an eye-opening 14 for 33 on the power play, a 42.4 percent success rate.
The power play had been just 3 for 28 in their first five games, a 10.7 percent success rate.
"At the beginning of the year, we weren't doing a whole lot of things right. We were trying to push offense too much," said Mike Richards, who had a bizarre goal and two assists last night.
"To tell you the truth, I think we thought it was going to be too easy after last year's playoff run," he said. "We were just getting outworked. Now we are starting to work a little bit harder and we are getting some bounces, and the wins are coming."
Richards scored perhaps the strangest goal of his career, giving the Flyers a 4-1 lead with 7 minutes, 18 seconds left in the second period.
The Flyers' captain took a shot from 10 feet away that sailed off the glass and bounced ever so slowly off the top of the net and crossbar before glancing off the back of goalie Peter Budaj's glove and into the goal.
"I've always been a believer that the harder you work, the more bounces you get, and we've had some good bounces lately," coach John Stevens said. "The first six games, we had some unfortunate bounces."
The Flyers were 0-3-3 in those games.
"I don't want to take anything away from Philly," Budaj said, "but I think we outplayed them."
Not on special teams. The Flyers were 2 for 5 on the power play and added their league-leading 12th shorthanded goal. The Flyers outscored Colorado, 3-1, on special teams.
Trailing by 1-0, the Flyers tied the game on the power-play goal by Knuble.
Richards patiently held the puck as he skated through the left circle. As he reached the goal line, he fired a pass out front that Knuble knocked into the net for his 100th goal as a Flyer.
Richards "acted like he was going to shoot, and the guy goes down and Richie kind of sweeps around him," Knuble said.
"I kept my stick on the ice, and Richie snapped an incredibly hard pass right on my tape and all I had to do was shovel it toward the net," he added.
The Flyers took a 2-1 lead on a pretty two-on-one in which Jeff Carter scored the shorthanded goal on a one-timer after taking a perfect pass from Gagne.
The Flyers have one fewer shorthanded goal than they had in the entire 2007-08 season.
"Just being aggressive on our opportunities," Carter said after scoring his 22d goal.
The play started as Ossi Vaananen rapped the puck along the boards behind his net. Wojtek Wolski tried to intercept it, but the puck went off his skate to Gagne.
Streaking down the middle of the ice from his own zone and veering to his right, Gagne crossed the Avs' blue line and slid a pass past defenseman Brett Clark to Carter, who rifled a left-circle shot just inside the left post.
Joffrey Lupul also scored for the Flyers, and Gagne had two assists to go with his goal. Gagne was not on the ice for the Flyers' last power play, but the club said he was having his neck massaged and was not injured.