Boucher seizes opportunity, helps Flyers climb to 5th

     DALLAS _ Admit it. When you have seen goalie Brian Boucher in a relief role this season, you have cringed at the results.
     But when Boucher starts a game _ and has a chance to get into a rhythm _ he is as dependable as Ray Emery or Michael Leighton.
     Boucher was flawless after Thursday’s first period, and he helped the Flyers register a key 3-2 comeback win over the Dallas Stars.
     Simon Gagne and Mike Richards each had a goal and an assist, and Scott Hartnell scored the bizarre game-winner as the Flyers climbed from seventh to fifth in the East.
     Jeff Carter’s shot appeared to deflect off Hartnell’s hip _ Hartnell wasn’t even sure where it hit him _ with 12:07 left to snap a 2-2 tie and give the Flyers their first win in Dallas since 1996. Since then, they had been 0-4-2 here.
     Boucher made 27 saves, none better than his stop in front on Karlis Skrastins with about 9:20 left.
     “I just happened to be in the right position and he hit me,” Boucher said with a smile.
     It has been a tough season for Boucher. He was sidelined by a lacerated finger in December, and when he returned, he found himself on the bench because Leighton was in a hot streak after replacing the injured Emery.
     Now, with Leighton sidelined for eight to 10 weeks, it’s Boucher’s turn to carry the load.
     “He’s shown he can do the job,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s a veteran and he’s been around. Since I’ve been here, someone has gotten the opportunity (in goal) and they’ve made the most of it.”
     It was Boucher’s first start since Dec. 21, and his first win since a 3-1 triumph in Boston on Dec. 14.
     He had been 4-10 as a starter, primarily because the Flyers had scored a total of eight goals in those 10 defeats. (He had a 2.42 GAA in his 14 starts before last night.)
     “This is a confidence-builder for him,” Hartnell said.

     Breakaways. Hartnell was ill and missed the morning skate. He said he had a virus or food poisoning, but was able to eat a meal at 4 p.m. and get some energy. …Gagne has eight goals in his last 10 games.....Kimmo Timonen played in his 800th career game on his 35th birthday....Flyers play in Atlanta Saturday night.