VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Fifteen seconds into last night's game with the Canucks, the Flyers lost the services of

Simon Gagne

. He was blindsided on a hit by Vancouver defenseman

Kevin Bieksa

.

Gagne, who has made a remarkable recovery from a concussion that sidelined him for most of last season, appeared to injure his right shoulder. The Flyers said he suffered an "upper-body injury" and would not return.

After Bieksa hit Gagne, the left winger went down to the ice. Flyers captain Mike Richards immediately went after Bieksa and the two slugged it out. Bieksa appeared to have the edge.

Gagne went into the game with 18 goals and 22 assists. He led the Flyers with a plus-18 rating, which placed him eighth in the NHL.

Rookie Claude Giroux replaced Gagne on the first line with Richards and Mike Knuble.

Defensemen return

As expected, Flyers defensemen

Kimmo Timonen

and

Matt Carle

played against the Canucks after missing the previous game with injuries.

Timonen sat out just one game even though he suffered a chip fracture of his left ankle Friday in Chicago.

Carle returned after missing a game with a bruised bone in his left ankle.

With their return, Luca Sbisa and Lasse Kukkonen were healthy scratches.

Briere update

Danny Briere,

recovering from a groin injury, skated again during a morning workout, but coach

John Stevens

said it was a "long shot" that the high-scoring center would be able to play Friday in Anaheim.

. . .

Ali Stafford,

whose husband,

Ben,

played for the AHL Phantoms and is now serving with the Marines in Iraq, will visit with the Flyers before Friday's game. She lives in Southern California. . . . The Flyers have not lost in Vancouver since Jan. 17, 1989. Since then, they are 10-0-4 in Vancouver.

- Sam Carchidi