PHILADELPHIA -- Jan Bulis was more useful on the ice instead of wearing a suit and watching from the press box.
Bulis was a late addition to the lineup after coach Bob Gainey told him in the morning he'd be a healthy scratch.
"I had a meeting with Bob and he told me I wasn't playing," Bulis said. "Then I came back in the afternoon and he told me I was going to suit up. Luckily, it went well for me."
Steve Begin also scored for Montreal, which had lost 16 of its last 17 on the road and hadn't won away from home since beating Tampa Bay on Dec. 28.
It could be a costly game for the Flyers, who lost star center Peter Forsberg and forward Branko Radivojevic to injuries. Forsberg left with a left groin strain in the second period and will be evaluated on Thursday. Radivojevic has a left ankle injury that could keep him out a while.
Forsberg, the team's leading scorer, missed two games last week with an abdominal muscle strain that initially was called a groin strain. He also sat out six games earlier this season with a right groin strain. A former league MVP, Forsberg has 62 points in his first season with the Flyers.
"I thought I was going to be fine and I aggravated it," Forsberg said. "It's a little worse than a week ago. I didn't feel a pop, but a sharp pain."
Without their top three defensemen, the Flyers had one of their sloppiest efforts.
"We made mistakes that it doesn't matter who we played," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We made really poor decisions. We made poor reads."
Begin stripped Gagne and beat Esche to make it 5-3. The Canadiens tied a season-low with just 15 shots.
Bulis, who never had a hat trick in the NHL, became the first Canadiens player to score four goals since Brian Savage, now with the Flyers, did it against the New York Islanders on Jan. 8, 1998.
"It was four goals on four shots," Bulis said. "A game like this sometimes is once in a career."
The Flyers took a 3-2 lead when a one-timer by Petr Nedved hit off a Montreal defender and Umberger's stick before sliding in between goalie Cristobal Huet's legs in the second period.
But a streaking Bulis scored off a nifty pass from Tomas Plekanec to tie it at 3.
Gagne scored his career-best 34th goal of the season to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead early. Forsberg, who has helped Gagne become one of the league's premier scorers, set it up by dumping a shot toward the net. Huet made the stop, but Gagne poked in the rebound.
Meyer ripped a shot from outside the left circle into the top corner to make it 2-0 a few minutes later. But the Canadiens answered just 1:12 later when Bulis scored to cut it to 2-1.
Craig Rivet's clearing pass from Montreal's zone took two wild bounces off the glass and ricocheted toward the net. Bulis outraced Flyers defenseman Chris Therien to the puck and lifted a shot over Esche's shoulder.
Bulis ripped a shot under Esche's arm to tie it at 2 in the second period.
"We did give up a lot of scoring chances, but I'm not going to say that a stronger game out of me wouldn't have helped us get it into overtime," said Esche, who made his second start since returning from a groin injury that sidelined him for a month.
- Mario Lemieux was the last player to score four goals against the Flyers in a 9-3 win by Pittsburgh on March 20, 1993.
- Gagne's previous best was 33 goals in the 2001-02 season.
- Rivet had two assists for a career-best 19 this season.
- Bulis had one goal in 20 previous games against the Flyers.
- The Flyers had their 24th sellout in 26 games at the Wachovia Center.