After Wednesday's 5-2 victory at Tampa Bay, the Flyers scattered to various destinations to spend Christmas with their families.

They left in a good frame of mind.

"We wanted to go into Christmas with a win under our belts and feel a little better about ourselves," defenseman Chris Pronger said.

"It was a step in the right direction," he said. "It wasn't a giant step, with a lackluster second period, but it was a win nonetheless, and we'll take it."

"The guys are getting back their confidence," said defenseman Oskars Bartulis, who contributed a pair of assists to help the Flyers snap a four-game losing streak.

The Flyers dominated the third period and pulled away from a 2-2 tie, starting a six-game road stretch, their longest of the season, on a positive note.

They return to action tomorrow at Carolina. The stretch will continue with games against the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers, Boston, and Ottawa.

"Everybody wanted to go home feeling good about themselves," said left winger Simon Gagne, who had a pretty assist and an empty-net goal against Tampa Bay.

Coach Peter Laviolette will face the Hurricanes for the first time since they fired him early last season. They have an NHL low of 24 points, and have dropped 2-0 and 6-1 decisions to the Flyers this season.

Despite a horrendous five-week stretch - 14 losses in their last 18 games, which dropped them to 13th in the Eastern Conference - the Flyers are just five points behind the Rangers for the eighth playoff spot.

Goalie Brian Boucher, who has a 2.66 goals-against average, said he expects to be ready tomorrow. Boucher played in 14 of the previous 15 games before missing Wednesday's contest because of a lacerated right ring finger.

Michael Leighton, claimed from Carolina on reentry waivers on Dec. 15, played admirably, making 31 saves.

Breakaways. Wednesday's win marked the second time in the last 21 games that the Flyers had scored at least five goals. . . . Dan Carcillo leads the Flyers with 68 hits. . . . The Jeff Carter-Danny Briere-Scott Hartnell line is in a drought. Carter has goals in just three of his last 20 games, Hartnell has none in his last 10, and Briere is goalless in his last nine. . . . The Flyers have outshot their opponents in 13 of their last 14 games. . . . The Flyers are excited about playing Boston in the Winter Classic at historic Fenway Park on New Year's Day. "It's going to be fun," Gagne said. "It's going to bring back great memories of when you were a kid," playing outdoors. . . . Since the Flyers entered the NHL in 1967, they have a 62-80-21-5 regular-season record against the Bruins, including a 26-45-11-3 mark in Boston. The third figure refers to ties and the fourth to overtime losses. . . . Laviolette, a Massachusetts native, has secured 50 Winter Classic tickets for his family and friends.