After Yzerman's 1,050th assist, Howe was in the dressing room to congratulate him.
"One of the advantages, one of the special things, about playing in Detroit or Montreal is guys like Gordie Howe walk in the room," Yzerman said. "I didn't know he was here tonight; it was kind of a coincidence to get that assist on a night that he's here."
Yzerman surpassed Howe, another Red Wings legend, with a play that showed he can still contribute in his 23rd season.
He carried the puck up the ice and made such a good crossing pass to Robert Lang that he was able to score easily at 14:10 of the third. The crowd gave Yzerman a standing ovation when the milestone was announced and chanted "Stev-ie! Stev-ie!"
In the only scheduled meeting between two of the NHL's top teams, the game was scoreless until midway through the second period. After the third began 1-all, the Red Wings had five goals and the Flyers scored twice.
"It's the best team we've faced," said Philadelphia's Simon Gagne, who scored his 30th and 31st goals.
If Philadelphia ran out of energy, it had a legitimate excuse as it finished the longest road trip in franchise history with its 11th straight game away from home. It ended the road trip 8-2-1.
"Philadelphia is a great team, but I think we caught them a little tired," said Brendan Shanahan, whose line with Zetterberg and Datsyuk was dominant.
Dennis Seidenberg had a goal for the Flyers, who have not won in Detroit since Nov. 4, 1988.
Chris Chelios and Datsyuk scored in the opening minute of the third period; after the teams alternated goals, Zetterberg and Lang sealed the victory with scores.
"It's a lesson," Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When you play against a team like this and make errors in your own zone, you're going to get schooled and we did. We made far too many mistakes with the puck on our side.
"You make mistakes like this against a team like Chicago, you don't get buried," he said.
Philadelphia's Derian Hatcher played in his 41st game after having an injury-shortened season in Detroit during the NHL's last season. ... The Red Wings played their third consecutive game against another division leader and avoided their first three-game losing streak since Oct. 25-30, 2003. ... Yzerman is 29 assists away from Adam Oates on the NHL's all-time list.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Joe Louis Arena Location: Detroit, Michigan
Referees: Tom Kowal, Bill McCreary Linesmen: Darren Gibbs, Jonny Murray
Attendance: 20,066 (100.0% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
No scoring this period
Pavel Datsyuk (17)
(Power Play) Assists: Henrik Zetterberg, Brendan Shanahan
Simon Gagne (30)
(Power Play) Assists: Peter Forsberg, Mike Knuble
Chris Chelios (2)
(Shorthanded) Assists: Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby
Kirk Maltby (5)
Assists: Brendan Shanahan, Henrik Zetterberg
Dennis Seidenberg (2)
Assist: Simon Gagne
Henrik Zetterberg (21)
Simon Gagne (31)
Assists: Peter Forsberg, Mike Knuble
Henrik Zetterberg (22)
Assists: Pavel Datsyuk, Brendan Shanahan
Robert Lang (10)
Assists: Steve Yzerman, Mikael Samuelsson