Yet, despite playing in fits and starts since the season resumed, the Flyers have managed to get five points out of the four games.
"It's tough when you come back from a long break," Gagne said. "It will take some time to see the team play like we did before the break."
That may be the case for some of his teammates, but apparently not for Gagne, who has scored four of his 11 goals in the last four games and has at least one point in 10 of his last 13.
"Your goal-scorers have to score, and he's a natural goal-scorer," coach Peter Laviolette said of Gagne. "That was a big goal he scored for us."
Jeff Carter scored his 30th - his seventh in the last eight games - and Danny Briere his 23d, but it was Gagne's goal that broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period and shook the Flyers out of a lull.
Afterward, Gagne said he feels he's finally coming around after abdominal surgery in late October robbed him of much of the early season. He missed all of November and did not return until Dec. 19.
"I don't want to miss any time early in the season. I need that time," Gagne said. "It's where I get my game speed and feeling good about my stickhandling, things like that. It's almost like missing a training camp. You come back and you don't feel in great shape. You feel you're missing a step. You're slow shooting the puck. Right now, I feel like it's starting to come in every aspect of the game."
Gagne's goal came after the puck caromed off the boards behind the Toronto net and went to Dan Carcillo, who quickly slid a pass to the waiting Gagne.
Early this season, Colton Orr, a brawny Leafs winger, played even though his left eye was swollen shut by a punch during a fight in the previous game against Ottawa.
Last night, Orr played even though there was a gaping hole between his ears. In the first period, he proved to be a godsend for the Flyers when he took three mindless penalties - a double minor for roughing and cross-checking Carcillo as he tried to lure the Flyers' tough guy into a fight. Carcillo turned the other cheek, sore as it might have been, but the Flyers wasted the opportunity, even though they had a two-man advantage for half a minute when Dion Phaneuf joined Orr in the penalty box.
But Orr was the gift that kept on giving. He wasn't out of the box for long when he bowled over Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, giving the Flyers a two-man advantage because Phaneuf was still serving his penalty. Carter settled the restless crowd when he took a pass from Mike Richards and, with time to measure his shot, sent the puck past goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere for a 1-0 lead.
Laviolette credited Carcillo for his show of discipline.
"He was riding me there and I sucked him into a few [penalties] and luckily we scored a little bit later," Carcillo said. "That's the type of team they are right now. We're not buying into it. We've got bigger things to worry about."
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or email@example.com.