COLUMBUS, Ohio - Flyers forward Vinny Lecavalier made a surprise return Saturday night in Columbus, added to the lineup because of an injury to Steve Downie.

Lecavalier, sidelined since he suffered a non-displaced fracture in his lower back against Nashville on Nov. 30, had been expected to be out until next Saturday in Edmonton.

"A guy like Vinny has been around a long time, and you have to trust his judgment that he's ready to go," general manager Paul Holmgren said before the game.

After the Flyers' 6-3 loss, Lecavalier said he felt "better than I expected." He had an assist and won seven of eight faceoffs.

Holmgren said Lecavalier, who wore extra padding to protect the injury, could not do further damage to the back. Lecavalier began the night at right wing on a line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read.

The GM said Downie had an upper-body injury and that it was not a concussion. Downie will miss seven to 10 days, Holmgren said.

Defenseman Nick Grossmann missed the game with the flu, and Hal Gill played for the first time in 21 games.

Barber to be honored

Bill Barber, the Hall of Fame left winger who still holds the Flyers' record with 420 career goals, has been named the recipient of the Living Legend award by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association.

Barber, 61, who is a scouting consultant with the Flyers, will be honored at the association's Jan. 27 banquet at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill.

Coincidentally, the 1974 Flyers will be honored on the 40th anniversary of their first Stanley Cup championship. Most of the Flyers from that team, including Barber, will be honored.

Barber, a six-time all-star during his 12 seasons with the Flyers, said he was "lucky to play with so many great teammates and have great coaches."

Numerous pro and collegiate athletes will be honored at the banquet. Tickets are available at