RALEIGH, N.C. - Playing the tip game, Jeff Carter put dibs on the goal the second Andrej Meszaros' point shot subtly deflected off his stick and into the Hurricanes' net.
It was credited to Meszaros anyway.
But an official review, after the second period, showed the Flyers' goal belonged to Carter. It may be the most backward way to be credited with a natural hat trick. But that doesn't bother Carter.
"I knew I tipped it," he said with a grin.
Carter's three goals, good for his second career hat trick and the 15th natural hat trick in franchise history, could have beaten the Hurricanes single-handedly. Despite being outshot, 36-26, the Flyers rolled to their largest margin of victory in more than two seasons with an 8-1 thrashing of Carolina at the RBC Center last night.
So much for the Hurricanes, who topped Edmonton, 7-1, on Tuesday, having the upper hand with the Flyers coming off a relaxing golf trip to Pinehurst earlier in the week.
The Flyers are 14-0-3 in their last 17 meetings with the Hurricanes, and haven't lost to them in regulation since Dec. 19, 2006.
"Maybe we should play [golf] every week, if we're going to score eight goals," Carter said after registering his first road points of the season. "We saw what they did against Edmonton and we knew that we needed to come out with a pretty solid effort."
The Flyers' effort has been more than solid over the last eight games. Thanks to a superb special-teams game that enabled 14 different players to get on the score sheet, the Flyers bumped their record to 7-0-1 over the last eight games.
The Flyers (10-4-2), who continue to hold a five-point edge over the Rangers in the Atlantic Division, are off to their best start since 2005-06, when they began 11-4-1.
Nearly 20 percent through the 82-game climb, the Flyers are on pace for a 51-21-10 record and 112 points. That would be their best regular-season finish since 1984-85, when they won the Wales Conference with Pelle Lindbergh in net.
About the only disappointment was that Sergei Bobrovsky couldn't hang on to his first career NHL shutout, which was broken with 11:16 left in the blowout.
Bobrovsky stopped 35 of 36 shots, including a barrage of four straight after Scott Hartnell's first-period goal was disallowed, and before Danny Briere could respond to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead less than 4 minutes later.
"Especially if it goes the other way and they catch some steam early on, you never know what is going to happen," coach Peter Laviolette said. "To come back and get that goal was important, just to get back on the board and keep moving forward."
After a dismal 3-for-35 (8.6 percent) start to the season on the power play, the Flyers are 11-for-34 (32.4 percent). They were 2-for-2 last night with Carter's two tallies helping to push the unit from 25th in the league to a tie for 11th.
In the last eight games, the Flyers have had four games with multiple power-play goals.
"When we weren't scoring, I said you could see it coming," Laviolette said. "Guys were getting into a rhythm. We started scoring goals. We actually got away from it over the last couple games, we weren't very effective at getting scoring chances."
"It's been good," Carter said. "We've been focusing on keeping it simple. We've been scoring rebounds and garbage goals."
The Flyers' penalty kill did more than just keep the Hurricanes at bay, going 4-for-4, but they also added to the damage. Seven minutes into the third, Mike Richards scored a shorthanded goal just a few seconds after failing on a breakaway. Claude Giroux picked up a turnover on Carolina's subsequent breakout and fed Richards for the one-timer that made it 5-0.
The Flyers could have been even more destructive if Hartnell's first-period tally wasn't disallowed and Briere, who scored two goals, didn't hit the crossbar twice in the first period.
Statistics say that each game has a 1-in-18 chance of seeing a hat trick. Briere was inches away from the Flyers' second of the night.
"It's not something that you have a chance to do too often," Briere said. "We came out and we could have even had a few more goals. We were ready to go."
The Flyers have won eight in a row against Carolina . . . Claude Giroux's assist on Mike Richards' shorthanded goal was his NHL-best fourth shorthanded point of the season . . . Defenseman Andrej Meszaros was a plus-4 . . . Sean O'Donnell is tied for fourth in the NHL with a plus-10 rating . . . The Flyers last scored eight goals on Dec. 17, 2007 in an 8-2 win against Pittsburgh . . . Goaltender Michael Leighton (back) and defenseman Matt Walker (hip) took part in practice again yesterday, for the second day in a row. Both participated in full skating activities and drills . . . Oskars Bartulis was also a healthy scratch . . . Sergei Bobrovsky made his eighth straight start. Peter Laviolette said he is "confident" he will find more time for Brian Boucher soon . . . The Hurricanes will retire former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour's No. 17 on Feb. 18 during the Flyers' next visit. Brind'Amour, 40, spent parts of nine seasons with the Flyers and nine full seasons in Carolina, captaining the 'Canes to the 2006 Stanley Cup under Laviolette. *
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