The Flyers were in a tailspin because they grew complacent with a big first-place lead. That was one theory.
The Flyers were slumping because they were slowed by the flu, and because The Driven One, coach Peter Laviolette, worked them too hard during three grueling practices last week. That was another theory.
Whatever the reason, the Flyers' season-high four-game losing streak is over.
It ended Tuesday night as Jeff Carter scored a pair of goals to key a 4-1 win over Edmonton at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers' first victory over the Oilers since 2001.
"This was a big game as far as getting back on track and just finding a way to win again," said Danny Briere, who had a goal - his first in nine games - and an assist. "A little bit at a time. We need to find our mojo back, I guess."
They found it in the first period as they outshot Edmonton on goal, 17-1, and fired 34 shots to the Oilers' three.
They lost it the rest of the way, getting outshot, 24-10, over the final two periods. Rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky kept the Flyers' lead at 3-1 by robbing three players from in close late in the game, and Blair Betts wrapped up the victory with an empty-net goal with 41.5 seconds left.
Afterward, defenseman Chris Pronger, who was shouting at someone just as reporters entered the locker room, wasn't exactly satisfied with the victory.
"After that first period, it was a little sporadic," said Pronger, who blocked three shots and was plus-1. "After that, the wheels fell off and we started turning the puck over and stopped moving our feet. Our gaps as defensemen got bad. The forwards' gaps got bad, and when you turn the puck over like that, the other team is going to gain a lot of momentum."
Pronger's tone made it seem as if his team had just lost.
"There's winning, and then there's winning in spite of how you play," he said.
The Flyers increased their Eastern Conference lead over Boston to four points; they remain two points ahead of Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division.
"When you look at the last two periods and how you leave the rink, we still have a lot of work to do," Pronger said. "We need to sharpen up."
In building a 2-0 first-period lead, the Flyers turned the Wells Fargo Center into their own personal shooting gallery.
It was like watching Charlie Sheen go after CBS on almost every channel.
Attack. Attack. Attack.
But two passive periods followed as the Flyers had their lowest shot total of the season in the final 40 minutes of a game.
Playing his first game since he was sidelined by the flu, Carter had his fifth two-goal performance of the season - he has a team-high 30 goals - as the Flyers ended a 0-6-1 skid against Edmonton. One of his goals was on a five-minute power play, courtesy of Ladislav Smid's boarding infraction on Darroll Powe.
Bobrovsky, now 25-11-4, protected the lead as he stopped Sam Gagner, Jean-Francois Jacques, and Jordan Eberle on close shots in the final 3 minutes, 53 seconds.
"He held the fort for us," Pronger said.
Briere wasn't as critical as Pronger when he dissected the final two periods, when the Flyers went into a defensive shell.
"I think it's kind of human nature. You want to protect that lead, especially the way things have been going lately," Briere said. "We didn't want any turnovers that maybe end up in the back of our net.
"We'll get back to where we were. We showed in the first period that when we play all-out, we can be dominating, so it was definitely a step in the right direction."
Said Carter: "It's not just going to switch overnight. We needed to get back to doing the little things. . . . I guess it's a work in progress."
Laviolette, who called the team's performance "inconsistent," gave the Flyers an off day Wednesday as they recover from a flu bug that has hit several players. They play in Toronto on Thursday.