Flyers' magic number still at 8

    The Flyers played well enough to win Thursday, but ran into a hot goalie and dropped a 4-2 decision to Florida at the Wachovia Center.

   For all intents and purposes, the loss almost assures that the Flyers won't catch Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey, which has a seven-point lead over Philadelphia with nine games left.

   In Thursday's game, Scott Hartnell, Jeff Carter and Danny Briere were each a plus-two to lead the Flyers, who had their three-game winning streak snapped because backup goalie Craig Anderson made 40 saves, including several outstanding ones.

    Another factor: Florida blocked 23 shots _ 16 more than the Flyers.

    The Flyers' fourth line _ Riley Cote, Darroll Powe and Arron Asham _ was a combined minus-six. Those players were on the ice for both of Florida's even-strength goals.

    Anderson was playing because Tomas Vokoun, Florida's usual starting goalie, blew a 3-1 lead in the third period of Wednesday's 5-3 loss in Buffalo.

   "We haven't been winning games and the other guy (Vokoun) hadn't been getting it done for us," Florida coach Pete DeBoer said. "We'd been in this position earlier in the year and made a change. The team responded, and Craig responded. So I give Craig Anderson credit. He's been sitting for a long time. To come in and give a performance like that was great from a confidence point for our team and also personally for himself."

    Florida, which iced the win with an empty-net goal, remained two points out of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

    The Flyers, who visit the New York Islanders on Saturday, are still the No. 4 seed, and their magic number for clinching a playoff spot is eight points.

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    Notes. Florida's Jay Bouwmeester was a minus-2.....On Scott Hartnell Wig Night, Hartnell was all over the ice. The left winger scored his 28th goal and had seven shots on goal _ and another shot that hit the post......The Flyers had 22 hits _ nine more than Florida.....The Flyers also had a huge edge in faceoffs, winning 62 percent of the 55 draws.