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Briere, Richards lead Flyers offence in 8-2 thrashing of Canucks @NHL

VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks are glad they won't have to see the Philadelphia Flyers again this season.

Mike Richards scored two goals, including one when his club was two men short, and added two assists, and Daniel Briere provided a goal and two helpers as the Philadelphia Flyers routed the Vancouver Canucks 8-2 before a disappointed sellout crowd at GM Place.

"We came out strong," said Richards after scoring his first two goals of the season. "I think a couple of days off in Whistler helped us re-energize a bit. We just kept it simple, made the turn some pucks over and made them pay."

Due to the NHL's unbalanced schedule, it was the first game between the teams in Vancouver since New Year's Day in 2001. They last faced each other in Philly on Dec. 15, 2005.

The Canucks certainly had their fill of the Flyers Wednesday after trailing 4-1 and 7-2 by at the intermissions.

"This is as bad as I've seen this team play," said Canucks captain Markus Naslund. "We talked about getting back to the good habits we had last year and we haven't done that."

The Flyers made Vancouver starting goaltender Roberto Luongo, a finalist for the Vezina, Hart and Lester B. Pearson trophies last season, look ordinary. The visitors scored on four of 13 shots in the first period, prompting Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault to give Luongo the rest of the night off.

Richards scored the final two goals of the game when the outcome was long since decided. His second of the night, on a breakaway in the third period. added insult to misery as the Canucks had a five-on-three advantage.

"The puck was bouncing and I just wanted to put pressure on their D and it ended up right on my stick and I went down and made a little move," said Richards.

Briere, the former Buffalo Sabre who signed an eight-year US$52 million contract with the Philadelphia in the off-season, now has four goals and three assists in his first three games as a Flyer.

The Flyers improved to 2-1 after more than half their roster was revamped following a 2006-07 campaign in which they missed the playoffs. Philadelphia outshot the Canucks 30-27 while scoring twice on four power play chances.

"It's a good way for us to start the season," said Briere. "It definitely is going to relieve a lot of pressure."

Jeff Carter, R.J. Umberger, Simon Gagne, Joffrey Lupul, and Mike Knuble also scored for the Flyers who held team-bonding sessions during a retreat at Whistler, B.C., over the previous two days.

"It was one of those nights where everything was going our way," said Briere.

Ryan Shannon, Lukas Krajicek, both on the power play, replied for the Canucks, who dropped to 1-2. Daniel and Henrik Sedin assisted on both goals.

There was an ugly moment in the third period as Philadelphia's Jesse Boulerice cross-checked Ryan Kesler in the face as he was coming around the net. Boulerice faces an automatic league review and told reporters that he expects a suspension.

"Obviously, it's a dirty play," said Kesler, sporting a swollen jaw and lip.

He is expected to undergo X-rays Thursday.

The Canucks continued to struggle at even strength. Six of Vancouver's seven goals this season have come on the power play.

Curtis Sanford replaced Luongo at the start of the second. But the former St. Louis Blue promptly let in his first regular-season shot as a Canuck as Lupul beat him with a wrist shot to his short glove-hand side to extend Philadelphia's lead to 5-1.

Boulerice's five-minute penalty and a Kimmo Timonen's delay-of-game penalty set the stage for Richards' breakaway goal during a five-on-three situation only nine seconds later.

"We have to wake up," said Naslund. "That's the bottom line."

Notes: Vancouver centre Brendan Morrison played in his 515th consecutive game . . . The Canucks completed yoga training Tuesday . . . Centre Byron Ritchie and winger Brad Isbister, who both signed with Vancouver as free agents in the off-season, were scratched. Isbister has sat out two of the club's three games while Ritchie watched his first . . . B.C. Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson, who has had trouble dealing with crowd noise while recuperating from a concussion, viewed the game from the press box . . . Canuck rearguard Mattias Ohlund is one assist away from 200 for his career.

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