VANCOUVER - The Flyers probably didn't need extra incentive to play hard after losing the first two games of their West Coast trip.

But they got it anyway, when Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa blindsided Simon Gagne on the first shift of the game and sent him to the dressing room with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.

The reaction was immediate from the Flyers, especially from their captain, Mike Richards, who went after the larger Bieksa as soon as he saw what happened.

"He hit [Gagne]," Richards said. "I kind of saw it out of the corner of my eye. I felt it was kind of a cheap hit, a late hit and from behind. So I felt I had to do something about it.

"I thought it was a hit that should have been a penalty, and there wasn't a call. So I think you kind of have to address it in a way that you don't want to, but you have to."

If the Canucks thought they were going to gain an advantage, they were wrong. Jeff Carter scored not long after and kickstarted the Flyers on the way to a 3-2 win in General Motors Place last night. Scott Hartnell and Jonathon Kalinski also scored in the win.

Marty Biron, who missed five games with the flu and had a shaky outing in the loss in Chicago, was back to form and made 29 saves to notch the win.

Many of his best saves came in the third period with Vancouver pushing.

"Simon gets a hit like that and doesn't come back; Richie goes in and fights Bieksa, got us fired up. We scored our first goal and got a great effort from the young guys [Claude Giroux and Kalinski]," Biron said.

"When you get a good game from a lot of guys and depth . . . When you have all three lines going it makes a big difference."

The game started with Gagne dumping the puck into the offensive zone, then getting driven to the ice by Bieksa, who caught him high on the right shoulder. When Gagne got up, he was visibly in pain and with his right arm hanging. He left the game with an "upper body injury."

"It's not too bad. It's an upper body injury," Gagne said. "I'm not going to say where I got hurt. I fell down and got hurt; that's part of the game."

Asked whether he will play Friday in Anaheim, Gagne said it will depend on how he feels. "Hopefully, it will be better. [Trainer Jim McCrossin] and the doctor think it is something that can get better every day," he said. "Right now, it's a little bit sore. We'll see over the next couple of days."

Bieksa was not called for a penalty on the hit, but he and Richards drew fighting majors in the ensuing fray. Giroux was immediately inserted into Gagne's spot.

Carter wasted no time getting the Flyers the early lead - and his 27th goal of the season. Carter started the play, passing to Giroux and then breaking for open ice.

Giroux dished over to Matt Carle, who found Carter open and cutting toward the net. Carter backhanded the puck past Vancouver goalie Curtis Sanford for the 1-0 lead at 3:16.

"The first one was kind of a turnover. [Giroux] had it and made a great play to [Carle] jumping up. And I was able to sneak in behind and just took it around [Sanford]," Carter said.

Vancouver tied the game on a power-play goal by Daniel Sedin, who scored high on the short side over the shoulder of Biron on a pass out front from his brother, Henrik, at 16:54.

Hartnell, playing in his second game with a broken toe, got the lead right back at 17:39 with a long slapshot that found the back of the net and sent the Flyers into the locker room with a 2-1 advantage.

Kalinski pushed the lead to two goals early in the second period, converting a pass from Josh Gratton past the Canucks' Cory Schneider, who started the period in place of Sanford. Kalinski's first career NHL goal gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead.

"I kept it in and it went to [Gratton] and he took it to the net and took a quick shot," Kalinski said. "It bounced right out to me and I just had an open net.

"It's indescribable, I guess," he said. "As soon as I got it I thought, 'Wow, I just scored a goal.' I hope I get a couple more."

Carle, returning to the lineup after missing a game with an ankle injury, gave the Canucks some hope about midway through the second when his pass attempt hit the leg of Steve Bernier, who took the turnover and passed to Alex Burrows. Burrows then dumped a pass toward Ryan Kesler, who deflected it in to cut the Flyers' lead to 3-2.

But that's where the score stayed, with no goals in the final period.

The Flyers fly tomorrow to Anaheim, where they will play the Ducks for the fourth game of the trip.

"That was a heck of a hockey game," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "I was really proud of the way our guys stepped up." *