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Flyers 5, Islanders 2 @NHLdotcom

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Mike Richards needed a fluky bounce, a lucky break and an empty net to get his first career hat trick.

Richards scored three goals and Robert Esche made 20 saves, leading the undermanned Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.

Playing without their two leading scorers, Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne, the Flyers snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the fifth time in 15 games to remain one point behind the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers.

R.J. Umberger and Jeff Carter also scored for Philadelphia, which used eight first-year players.

"We had a lot of key guys out of the lineup and everybody stepped up," Richards said.

Trent Hunter and Miroslav Satan scored for the Islanders, who lost for the third time in four games.

Gagne, who was second in the NHL with 35 goals, sat out with a stomach virus and Forsberg, who has 62 points, missed his sixth straight game with a groin injury.

Defenseman Eric Desjardins returned for the injury-depleted Flyers after missing the previous 29 games following shoulder surgery. However, center Petr Nedved left the game after aggravating his groin injury, and former captain Keith Primeau (concussion), defensemen Kim Johnsson (concussion symptoms), Mike Rathje (groin) and Chris Therien (head) and forward Branko Radivojevic (ankle) remained out.

"They responded and took the challenge," coach Ken Hitchcock said of his young players.

After Philadelphia took a 2-0 lead in the first period, the teams traded four goals in the second.

A crisp pass from Esche set up Carter's power-play goal that gave the Flyers a 4-2 lead. Umberger took Esche's outlet pass, streaked down the right side and dropped a perfect pass to Carter, who lifted a shot into the top corner.

The Flyers needed help from the replay booth on their third goal. Richards one-timed a shot just inside the post. A video review showed the puck crossed the line before goalie Garth Snow smothered it.

"I didn't know where it was, but everybody said it went in," Richards said.

Just 2:04 earlier, Hunter's power-play goal cut the score to 2-1. Hunter put in a rebound after a shot by Brent Sopel 7 seconds into the man-advantage.

Satan also scored on the power play to make it 3-2 in the second. He one-timed a fluttering shot past Esche for his 24th goal.

Richards scored a short-handed goal to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead early. Turner Stevenson's shot from the slot hit Islanders forward Mike York, bounced off Richards' stomach and appeared to hit off his skate before it trickled past Snow.

Richards was stoned on a short-handed, 3-on-1 break late in the game. But the rookie scored a short-handed goal into an empty net in the final minute.

"This guy plays beyond his years," Islanders coach Brad Shaw said. "He has poise and awareness with the puck that he certainly doesn't look like a first-year player."

Umberger's power-play goal made it 2-0 in the first. Freddy Meyer ripped a shot from the point that deflected off Carter's skate and went to Umberger, who lifted it into a wide-open net.

The Flyers were 0-for-23 with a man advantage over the last five-plus games before Umberger scored.

"We didn't show up the first 20 minutes," Islanders forward Mark Parrish said. "We couldn't do anything from there."

Notes: Philadelphia is 5-8-2 since a 9-0-2 stretch. ... Flyers C Michal Handzus played in his 254th consecutive game, despite a bone bruise in his left foot. ... The Flyers called up Ryan Ready and Stefan Ruzicka from the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms to fill in at forward. ... Islanders D Alexei Zhitnik missed his fourth straight game with a sprained ankle. ... Snow had missed the last 14 games because of sprained ligaments in both knees.

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