STEVE MacINTYRE serves just one purpose.

Last night, it was to try to intimidate the Flyers.

MacIntyre doesn't play hockey to score and he never will be counted on as a playmaker. Like a boxer, his fists - not his skates - are his paycheck.

The Florida Panthers, skating into Philadelphia for the first time since Mike Richards TKO'd one of their best players in David Booth on Oct. 24, wanted revenge.

Richards caught Booth, who was looking the other way, with a blindside hit that required an overnight stay in Pennsylvania Hospital. Booth twisted and turned, landing awkwardly on his neck and face, and leaving him with gashes that needed multiple stitches.

Booth suffered a severe concussion and has not played since. He just resumed light skating last week in South Florida.

Richards was not suspended for the hit, which was deemed legal because he never left his feet and led with his shoulder.

"These types of hits have no place in the game," Panthers general manager Randy Sexton said just minutes after the hit.

Rather than come back empty-handed in their first meeting since the hit, Sexton recalled the 6-5, 250-pound MacIntyre from AHL Rochester. He joined the Panthers yesterday with Mike Duco, a scrappy player with 15 fights to his credit.

MacIntyre has played in nearly every bush league out there: the fight-filled Quebec Semi-Pro Hockey League, the United Hockey League, and even the WHA 2.

Panthers coach Pete DeBoer tried to not make a big deal of the call-ups before last night's game.

"You don't want to make more of it than what it is: This is a tough team and this is a tough place to play," DeBoer told the Miami Herald. "We have some toughness in the lineup and that allows the other guys a chance to play . . . If they're not in the lineup, teams sometimes feel they can take liberties with your players.

"It's nice to have those guys here, but this isn't a retribution game or a WWF rematch, cage match."

The Flyers also broke Dominic Moore's nose and injured Radek Dvorak's knee on that night.

"If they wanted to take care of it, they could have taken care of it that night," Flyers enforcer Dan Carcillo said before the game. "There was still a lot of time left. Everyone notices it. I thought it was a legal hit. It was a big hit."

Instead, Florida did nothing to defend Booth in that game, who said Sunday that he was "angry" about the hit. Panthers captain Bryan McCabe said nothing last night would be "premeditated."

Several Panthers called the hit "unnecessary."

Carcillo mentioned that the Flyers noticed Florida's lineup change. Peter Laviolette responded by scratching forward Mika Pyorala for the first time this season in favor of heavyweight Riley Cote.

Neither Carcillo nor Cote needed to defend Richards, who handled his own business.

Richards fought McCabe, captain against captain, fewer than 4 minutes into last night's game - and that wasn't even the first fight. Ian Laperriere, in his first of two first-period fights, squared off with Gregory Campbell 2 minutes into the game.

Laperriere danced with Duco later in the first period, although none of the three fights gave the Flyers a lift. Florida scored just after the Richards fight. Laperriere added a third fight in the final period, receiving a 5-minute major for charging after running over Victor Oreskovich behind the net.

More undisciplined play

Scott Hartnell cost the Flyers on two power plays in the first period. With Rostislav Olesz in the box for tripping, Hartnell killed the Flyers' power play with a tripping penalty. A few minutes later, with Radek Dvorak off for boarding, Hartnell's turnover cost the Flyers a possession that they didn't regain until even strength.

"You certainly have that tool where you can control that ice time of players," Peter Laviolette said before the game. "We've got to find a way to motivate players to play great hockey for us, but that's certainly one of the tools that a coach can use."

It isn't one that Laviolette used last night. Hartnell was on the ice for the Flyers' next power play.

Kick saves

Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, newly inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame, will be signing bottles of his NHL Alumni Signature Series wine from 5-7 p.m. today at the Wine & Spirits store on 1940 S. Columbus Blvd. . . . Want to re-create magic from the Spectrum? You can refreeze melted ice from the Spectrum, which has been placed in a freezable drink coaster, in your own home. For more info, visit www.rememberthespectrum.

com.