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Canucks 5, Flyers 4 @NHLdotcom

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The best teams in the Eastern Conference were no match for the Vancouver Canucks.

Anson Carter scored twice in the third period, leading the Canucks to a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden and Nolan Baumgartner also scored for the Northwest Division-leading Canucks, who won their fourth straight game.

Vancouver beat the New York Rangers and the Flyers - the two top teams in the Atlantic Division - on the road in consecutive games. They also defeated the NHL-leading Ottawa Senators before going to New York.

``We want to play well against the East,'' Carter said. ``We have a lot of pride and we want to show we're one of the top teams in the West.''

Michal Handzus, Kim Johnsson, Mike Knuble and Sami Kapanen scored for Philadelphia, which had won two in a row.

The injury-depleted Flyers lost three more players when forward Mike Richards, fellow rookie Jeff Carter and goaltender Robert Esche left the game.

Philadelphia already is without its leading goal scorer, Simon Gagne, captain Keith Primeau, defensemen Eric Desjardins and Joni Pitkanen, and forwards Turner Stevenson and Donald Brashear.

``We just got to suck it up,'' Kapanen said. ``Obviously, it gets harder and harder when guys are going down. Hopefully, we'll get some of the guys back pretty soon.''

Naslund tied it at 3 when his shot from the side of the net hit off a defenseman's skate in the crease and went past Esche.

Carter made it 4-3 just 37 seconds later, scoring from in front after a giveaway.

Several minutes later, Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock pulled Esche for Antero Niittymaki. It didn't appear Esche was injured at the time, but Hitchcock said he hurt his groin again. Esche already missed time with a groin injury this season.

Carter scored on the first shot against Niittymaki to give Vancouver a 5-3 lead.

``This was a good win for us, a good confidence builder and a measuring stick,'' Naslund said.

Kapanen scored during a scramble in front with 1:26 left, but the Flyers couldn't tie it, despite getting a few chances from in close after pulling the goalie for an extra skater.

Canucks goalie Alex Auld finished with 39 saves.

``He was a difference-maker in the third period,'' Canucks coach Marc Crawford said.

Knuble gave Philadelphia a 3-2 lead on his 14th goal in the second period. His slap shot from along the right boards hit off Auld and trickled in.

Johnsson made it 2-1 in the second. Handzus led a 4-on-2 break, and slid a pass across to Johnsson, who stopped the puck with his skate and slapped a shot by Auld. Baumgartner tied it at 2 on a slap shot that hit off Knuble and skipped past Esche.

Handzus followed up his own shot to put the Flyers ahead 1-0. The Canucks tied it at 1 when Linden's shot through a screen went in.

``It seemed like every mistake we made went in our net. We deserved a better fate,'' Hitchcock said. ``We had a ton of things go right. We outshot them. We outchanced them. We outplayed them, but they're an opportunistic team and they took advantage of the mistakes we made. That's what good teams do.''

Notes: Richards' injury initially was called a concussion, but Hitchcock said that's not definite. Carter needed several stitches after getting hit in the ear with the puck. The status of both players and Esche is uncertain. ... Josh Gratton was called up from Philadelphia's AHL affiliate, becoming the 16th player who played for the Phantoms since last season to appear with the Flyers this year. ... Vancouver is 4-0 against the Eastern Conference. ... The Flyers are 66-27-13 against Vancouver. ... Seventeen of Philadelphia's 19 home games have been sellouts. ... The start was pushed back a half-hour when poor weather and traffic forced many Flyers players to arrive late.

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