SINCE FRIDAY, Mike Richards has had little problem talking the big talk.
On Saturday, Richards said he wanted to be the one who led the Flyers out of what is the biggest slump of his captaincy.
With a bewildering loss Monday in Montreal, the words seemed to mean little. They were empty, like the Flyers' score sheet.
Until last night.
Richards single-handedly picked up the Flyers, put them on his back and carried them to a resounding 6-2 win over the visiting New York Islanders. Much like the way Apollo carried the sun into the sky in ancient Greece, Richards helped shine a much-needed light on some of the darkest days in Flyerland since their last-place finish in 2006-07.
The win broke a five-game losing streak and gave Peter Laviolette his first win as the Flyers' bench boss after two losses.
"I saw a guy take charge of a game tonight," Laviolette said of Richards' two-goal performance. "On the ice, he was pretty good: on the penalty kill, on five-on-five, on the power play. He played a pretty solid game.
"When you get into these situations where you haven't been finding success, you usually look to your leaders to bring you out of it."
For the first time in 10 games, the Flyers played a complete game and righted wrongs in the scoring and special-teams departments that have plagued them.
The Flyers' once league-best power play struck three times, their first goals on the advantage in six games.
In fact, the Flyers scored more last night against former teammate Marty Biron than they did in their last five games combined. Richards helped provide that spark when he scored both of the Flyers' first-period goals.
"It was definitely really nice to score some goals," Richards said. "I think we did a lot of the same things, we just executed. We wanted to get more shots on goal; we were throwing everything at the net and we got some chances."
Richards, creating his own opportunity, first scored on a redirection of Kimmo Timonen's power-play slap shot. Just 6 minutes later he broke behind the Islanders' defense on the penalty kill and scored the Flyers' first shorthanded goal of the season on a breakaway.
The scoring among the big guns was contagious.
Jeff Carter, who has been nearly invisible in recent games, snapped a six-game goal-less streak with his two second-period goals.
"I think 'Cartsy's' two goals were a prime example of ," Richards said. "We knew if we just kept going, things would turn around. It's not like we have been playing a whole lot of bad hockey, we just couldn't score."
With a 4-0 lead not even midway through the game, the Flyers took their foot off the pedal and let the Islanders - who were pushed down to last in the Atlantic Division with the loss - back in the game.
Isles superstar rookie John Tavares scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season, both on the power play.
"We lost our way a little bit in the second period," Laviolette said. "I think it was just really important to get back to our game and the way we were playing, and not to let them try and find some life or some energy in the game."
It was Claude Giroux - scoring for the first time since Nov. 20 - who woke the Flyers out of their momentary daze. His two tallies in 6 minutes, spanning the final 3 minutes of the second and the first 3 minutes of the third, sent New York packing.
"I was trying some different things out there, trying to help my team in another way," Giroux said after his second career multigoal game. "I felt like I could control the puck and do some plays, I hadn't done any plays in a long time. I felt good out there."
Richards, who refused to take credit or show much emotion after the win, said it will take more than just one game to get back on track. The Flyers are still three points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
"It's something to build on," Richards said. "But there is no way we can relax and not focus as hard. It's nice to score and it's nice to get bounces. We didn't take anything lightly and we wanted to earn a win.
"We need to approach it like we maybe should have with the losses: an even keel."
"We certainly played a lot better," defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We were able to calm things down and rally the troops and get back to playing like we know how. Now it's up to us to continue to build on what we did."
The Flyers have won 12 straight games against the Islanders, dating back to 2007-08 . . . The Flyers are 4-1 against Atlantic Division foes . . . Chris Pronger recorded his 1,500th penalty minute . . . Kimmo Timonen was a plus-3 with two assists . . . Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux combined for 10 shots as a line . . . The last time the Flyers had three players score multiple goals in a single game was a 7-0 win over Atlanta on Oct. 28, 2008.
For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers.