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Flyers 8, Capitals 1 @NHL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - From feisty goals to finesse ones, Jeff Carter showed he can do it all.

Carter, Simon Gagne and Jon Sim each scored twice, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to an 8-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.

``I was disappointed with the way I started the season,'' said Carter, a former first-round pick who helped the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms win the Calder Cup last spring. ``I've started to come around the last four, five games. I have more confidence and things are going my way.''

Mike Knuble and Peter Forsberg also scored and Robert Esche had 29 saves for the Flyers, who have won three of their last four games and five straight at home.

``We're starting to gain an identity and confidence,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``We're starting to build. You can hear it in the banter on the bench.''

Chris Clark had the only goal for struggling Washington, which has lost six of eight. The Capitals haven't won in Philadelphia since 1998, going 0-14-1 in that span.

``It was playing against bigger, stronger players,'' Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. ``We're young men. They're big men. It wasn't a lack of effort. It wasn't a lack of execution.''

The Flyers, already missing captain Keith Primeau because of a concussion, lost defenseman Eric Desjardins to a concussion. He'll be evaluated Friday.

Carter gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead with a hard-fought goal in the first period. Carter went strong to the net after his slap shot was stopped, outmuscled defenseman Mike Green and backhanded the rebound into the top corner over goalie Brent Johnson.

Carter made some nifty moves to score on a short-handed breakaway in the final minute of the first to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead.

He stripped the puck from Alexander Ovechkin, went around defenseman Jamie Heward, skated down the left side, deked defenseman Steve Eminger and beat Johnson for his fourth goal and first multigoal game in the NHL.

``It's always nice to score goals and help the team win,'' Carter said. ``We have a lot of talented players on the team and a lot of guys who can put the puck in the net. We can't be letting up on anybody.''

The Capitals took a 1-0 lead on Clark's goal 3:40 into the game. But the Flyers scored the next eight.

``The Flyers are a great team,'' Heward said. ``It seems like every time we made a mistake, they scored.''

Sim knocked a rebound past Johnson to tie it at 1. Gagne scored twice in the second period to put it out of reach.

Gagne has 12 goals in 11 games. It took until the 57th game for him to score his 12th in the 2003-04 season, and he finished with 24. His career best is 33 in 2001-02.

Forsberg, who came in tied for the league lead with 17 assists, assisted on both of Gagne's goals. From behind the net, Forsberg fed a pass to Gagne for a power-play goal that made it 6-1.

``I'm enjoying playing the game again,'' Gagne said. ``I'm having fun, getting chances every night and it's certainly fun playing next to a player like Peter.''

Notes: With Primeau sidelined for the second straight game, the Flyers used three rookie centers - Carter, Mike Richards and R.J. Umberger. ... The Flyers outshot Washington 28-8 during one stretch. ... The Capitals are 0-8 when allowing three or more goals. ... Philadelphia defenseman Kim Johnsson sat out with a groin injury. ... Forsberg has eight multipoint games this season. ... The Flyers have 10 power-play goals in the last four games after getting eight in the first seven.

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