UNIONDALE, N.Y. - It was one of those weird goals that usually is scored against the Flyers. Instead it contributed to a 4-1 victory.

Philadelphia's Mike Knuble blocked Miroslav Satan's point shot as the puck squirted across the blue line with Flyers center Jeff Carter in pursuit.

Motoring in on New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, Carter backhanded a shot that DiPietro deflected into the corner, and Carter pursued it.

"I would have probably heard about it from [assistant coach Terry Murray] if it hadn't worked out the way it did," Knuble said. "Two of us [were] down there on the goal line."

Carter zinged a pass to Knuble in the slot.

"I turned out of the way, and it hit me, rattled off my stick . . . hit my skate," Knuble said. "I thought it went into the corner and started heading back up the ice when I saw the [Islanders'] shoulders slumping."

That's because the puck ricocheted off Knuble's skate and into the net, giving the Flyers a two-goal lead midway into the third period. That shorthanded goal crushed the Islanders' attempted rally during the Flyers' victory yesterday at the Nassau Coliseum.

The win started a crucial weekend for the Flyers with back-to-back Atlantic Division games.

Carter's line with Knuble and Scottie Upshall accounted for two goals and seven points in the game. Carter had a goal and an assist, his first multi-point game since Jan. 12 against Boston. After his usual quick start and mid-season slump, he's hot again with four points in as many game. His 21 goals are two shy of his career high.

"That's one of the main things I have to focus on - being more consistent," Carter said. "My ups and downs. I've been feeling good lately, getting some bounces, like tonight."

Today, the Flyers will try to make a four-point sweep of Atlantic Division opponents when they face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Twelve of the Flyers' 18 remaining games are against division rivals.

"These are the games you have to win to solidify a [playoff] spot," Carter said. "You have to bear down. These are the ones that really matter."

A win against the Rangers - even in a shoot-out - would advance the Flyers to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference based on tiebreakers (fewer games played).

Yesterday's game was the third straight win for the Flyers. Again, they had a strong 33-save performance from goalie Marty Biron.

Biron held the right post on Satan's backhanded breakaway opportunity early in the third period with the Flyers leading, 2-1. He smothered Satan's shot with his body. Soon after, Knuble put it away with the weird shorthanded goal.

"I thought that tempo in the first period was as high as I've seen all year," said Flyers coach John Stevens. "When we play with energy in our game and there is no rest on the ice, pucks turn over, we immediately transition to defense, and we had that tonight."

Carter gave the Flyers a 1-0 late lead in opening period, chasing down a dump-in to the right corner under pressure, then leaving the puck behind the net for Upshall. Carter then swung into the slot past defenseman Radek Martinek and took a return pass from Upshall, which he buried past DiPietro.

The entire game was fast-paced. The first penalties didn't come until 6 minutes, 8 seconds of the second period when the Flyers' Riley Cote and the Isles' Rob Davison each went off for fighting. Soon after, the Isles got a power-play goal from Bill Guerin for a 1-0 lead.

Braydon Coburn's power-play goal six minutes later regained the lead for the Flyers. Danny Briere made it possible, faking a shot at the top of the left circle. That froze DiPietro, as Briere slid the puck to the opposite circle where Coburn one-timed it for his sixth goal.

Briere is fourth in the league with 32 power-play points, including 21 power-play assists.

"That was a great one-timer by Coburn," he said. "When Kimmo gave the puck back to me, my first thought was to take a shot. I saw in the corner of my eye Braydon open, and that lane opened up."