Rookie Jeff Carter scored the go-ahead goal early in the second period and Philadelphia killed 3:02 of two-man power play time in a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"I don't know if we're surviving," Hitchcock said of his team, which has won five of its last seven. "When you play with some composure you're going to win a lot of close games, especially on the road. Even when things got a little bit hairy like they did in the second period, we gathered ourselves in the third. We did a great job."
Forsberg, who has 18 points in 10 career games against Columbus, also scored for the Flyers, and Sami Kapanen added an empty-net goal with eight seconds remaining. Philadelphia is 3-0-3 overall against Columbus.
Jan Hrdina scored a power-goal for the Blue Jackets, who had won four of their last six games.
Carter gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead early in the second period, pushing in a loose puck for his eighth goal of the season.
"It was kind of a broken play to start out with," Carter said. "Our defenseman made a good play trying to keep it in. It was pretty much sitting their for me to tap it in."
Philadelphia, which entered with the league's worst penalty kill, stood the test against Columbus' power play, ranked last, during the period. The Flyers killed six power plays.
"There were a lot of chances," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "It was good to get one early, but it was very disappointing not to get one on one of the five-on-threes in the second period. You have to get a goal on one of those when you are down 2-1. That was the difference in the game."
"I think I got fortunate, they just hit me," Esche said, playing his first game since missing four with a groin injury. "Some days they hit you, some days they don't. Today I think I was more fortunate than other days."
Hrdina, positioned in front of Esche, scored at 5:42 of the first opening period, redirecting Duvie Westcott's pass from the right point. The point was Hrdina's sixth in six games after he had only three in his first 21 games.
Forsberg responded for the Flyers just over a minute later with an individual effort. He stripped the puck from Jaroslav Balastik
at the blue line, beat Wescott at the left circle and jammed his own rebound past Marc Denis for his 10th goal.
"It was a creation of good hustling and a turnover from their side," said Forsberg, who has three points in two games since missing six with a groin injury.
Esche finished with 23 saves, and Denis made 28 saves.
Before the game, Fedorov said he won't play for Russia in the Turin Olympics. Fedorov, a six-time NHL All-Star who turned 36 on Tuesday, said he needed the time to recuperate from a nagging injury and to adapt to his new team. ... The Blue Jackets are 4-8 since Fedorov was acquired Nov. 15 in a trade with Anaheim. They were 5-13 before his arrival. ... Columbus, the league's lowest-
scoring team, has not scored more than two goals in a period and four goals in a game. ... Columbus' Rick Nash, out since Nov. 3 with a sprained knee, has been skating with the team and is expected back in about a week. ... The game was the Flyers' second without the high-scoring Gagne, expected to miss two weeks with a groin injury.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Nationwide Arena Location: Columbus, Ohio
Referees: Tim Peel, Kevin Pollock Linesmen: Pat Dapuzzo, Darren Gibbs
Attendance: 16,263 (89.7% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Jan Hrdina (3)
(Power Play) Assists: Duvie Westcott, Ron Hainsey