Mike Richards and Matt Carle had record-setting performances, and Danny Briere celebrated his 32d birthday with an overtime goal as the Flyers outlasted the Washington Capitals, 6-5, in their wildly entertaining home opener last night.

With a sellout crowd watching at the reverberating Wachovia Center, Briere scored on a rebound with 1 minute, 8 seconds left in overtime, giving the Flyers a 3-0 record for the first time since 1998.

"They're fun once in a while," Briere said about a game that was scoreless entering the second period before turning into a shoot-out. "I know the coaches probably won't like watching the tape tonight. Once in a while, it happens. Games are going to break open."

Richards became the first Flyers to score a hat trick in the franchise's 42 home openers, and Carle tied an NHL record for defensemen by collecting four assists in one period.

"It was crazy out there. Loud. Great hockey game. Hitting. Scoring. Everything in it," Richards said. "It was fun. It's not the ideal way we want to win a hockey game, but it's encouraging we found a way to win."

The Flyers were 3 for 9 on the power play, while Washington (2-1) was 1 for 5.

"Washington comes in here with all kinds of confidence, so it was a big test for us," coach John Stevens said.

A controversial goal by Brendan Morrison gave Washington a 5-4 lead with 10:28 left in the third period.

Flyers goalie Ray Emery stopped Matt Bradley's shot, but the rebound caromed off Morrison's skate and into the net. After a video review it was ruled Morrison did not deliberately kick the puck in, and the goal stood.

But with the Flyers skating with a man advantage, Scott Hartnell poked a rebound past relief goalie Jose Theodore with 4:15 remaining in the third period, deadlocking the score at 5.

All four of Carle's career-high four assists were in a wild second period that saw the teams combine for seven goals and seven penalties. The last NHL defenseman to score four assists in a period was Los Angeles' Rob Blake, in 1998.

"It just seemed like one of those things where every time I made a pass or threw the puck on net, it turned into something good," Carle said. "I've never had that happen before."

Carle has one goal and five assists in three games.

"When you play Matty Carle with a guy like [Chris Pronger], who kind of keeps the game in front of him, it allows Matty to go a little more involved up the ice," Stevens said. "We thought that would be a good thing, and so far it's been true to form."

The Caps tied it at 4-4 on Alexander Semin's second goal of the night, a power-play tally from the left circle with 11:42 left in the third.

A little over a minute later, Morrison's goal put the Caps ahead.

Richards scored three second-period goals - two on the power play - to notch the second hat trick of his career. The first came on Feb. 8, 2006, against the host New York Islanders.

Richards and Alex Ovechkin, who scored twice last night, each have five goals in three games, a 137-goal pace.

Asked if there was extra motivation facing the kinetic Ovechkin, Richards smiled.

"He's an easy guy to get up for. If you're not ready to play, he's going to hurt you."