Little, who has dressed as a backup 43 times over the past six seasons for Philadelphia, had nothing but bad luck in his first career start. The nightmare began at 12:17 of the first period.
With the Hurricanes on the power play, Sami Kapanen entered the Flyers' zone and cut to the slot. He fired a shot that Little got a piece of, but the puck caromed off the crossbar and the goalie's lower back before trickling into the net for his 26th goal.
It got worse just over eight minutes into the second. Defenseman Glen Wesley let go a slap shot from the left point that former Flyer Rod Brind'Amour redirected past Little from the top of the crease for Carolina's second power-play tally and a 2-0 lead.
Six minutes later, defenseman Sean Hill blasted a slapper from the right faceoff circle that went over Little's left shoulder, and the rout was on.
Hill added two assists for his first three-point game since March 26, 2000.
Rookie left wing Jaroslav Svoboda, recalled earlier in the day from the American Hockey League, took advantage of a golden opportunity to pick up his first NHL goal.
With 3:02 remaining in the second, Flyers right wing Billy Tibbetts drove Carolina's Craig Adams into Little, knocking the goalie to the ice. Little took exception, pounding his blocker into Adams' back. Play was allowed to continue, Svoboda skated into the slot and put the puck into an empty net for a 4-0 lead.
Irbe's shutout bid ended with 7:04 to go as Mark Recchi scored his first goal in 20 games.
But the diminutive Latvian stopped 18 shots for his 115th win as a Hurricane, tying the franchise mark set by Mike Liut.
The loss snapped the Flyers' five-game unbeaten streak and denied them a team-record 23rd road win.