Biron stops 20 as Flyers beat Penguins 2-0, secure sixth seed in playoffs

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

PHILADELPHIA - Martin Biron is going to have a difficult time protecting his shutout streak against Washington and NHL points leader Alex Ovechkin in the post-season.

Then again, with a fantastic end of the season for the Flyers goalie, perhaps Ovechkin should be the player with some concerns.

Biron stopped 20 shots in his second straight shutout and led the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2-0 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday that cost the Penguins the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

"You want to get rolling at the right time of the season," Biron said. "This is the key part of the year. We have to welcome the challenge the same way we did the last two games."

The Atlantic Division champion Penguins played without star Sidney Crosby and looked flat for long stretches against the Flyers in their bid to leap over Montreal for the top spot in the East.

Pittsburgh coach Michel Terrien decided to scratch Crosby, who missed 28 game with a sprained right ankle. Terrien said Crosby is fine, he just didn't want to risk his captain's health right before the playoffs.

"It would have been nice to win the conference, but we are not going to risk everything to win the conference," Terrien said.

The Flyers, who clinched a playoff spot on Friday, enter the post-season as the sixth seed and open against Washington. The Flyers won the season series against the Capitals 2-1-1.

Scottie Upshall scored his 14th goal for the Flyers in the second period and Mike Knuble added an empty-netter in the final minute.

Had the Penguins defeated the Flyers, Philadelphia would have been the No. 8 seed and an immediate first-round rematch would be on tap this week. Instead, the Penguins play Ottawa in the first round. The Senators won that season series 2-1-1.

Flyers centre Danny Briere missed his second straight game with a knee injury, and the Flyers can only hope he will be ready to play Game 1 later this week. Flyers captain Jason Smith (upper body injury) also sat out.

Biron again was steady after blanking the New Jersey Devils on Friday night, and posted consecutive shutouts for the second time this season.

"We go two straight games without giving up a goal and those are the kinds of things you want to see in your hockey team heading into the playoffs," Flyers coach John Stevens said.

Biron had a fantastic finish to the regular season, a needed confidence boost for a goalie who had never played in the playoffs.

He never made it off the bench as a backup in Buffalo, and the Flyers missed the post-season last year, when they had the worst record in the NHL.

The Flyers-Penguins series was a nasty, physical one this season with several big fights and some lopsided scores in each team's favour. For whatever reason, even with playoff seeding on the line, this game lacked excitement in the stands and intensity on the ice from the opening faceoff.

"It wasn't quite a playoff atmosphere game and it kind of felt like each team was feeling each other out," Penguins forward Jordan Staal said. "We really should have come out stronger at first and we would've took the game."

Only when the final horn sounded did the Flyers fans erupt in celebration and Biron was mobbed his teammates.

Marc-Andre Fleury was having a solid game, turning away a Mike Richards short-handed breakaway attempt in the second and he caught a break when Jeff Carter's shot knocked off the post only minutes earlier.

Fleury, though, appeared surprised by Carter's slap shot off a faceoff, and the puck bounced back to Knuble in the circle. Knuble backhanded the puck through two defenders and Upshall was there to knock it in for a 1-0 lead late in the second.

"After our last game, our emotions were a little drained, but we battled hard," Carter said.

Now the Flyers have to get that energy back up in time for their first playoff series in two years.

Notes: Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin finished second in the league in points. ... Biron had five shutouts this season and 23 in his career. ... The Flyers handed out their team awards in a pre-game ceremony. Mike Richards won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as team most valuable player; Kimmo Timonen won the Barry Ashbee Trophy as most outstanding defenceman; and Braydon Coburn and Riley Cote shared the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy for most improved player. Biron earned the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award winner and another award for accumulating the most star of the game points. Richards also was recognized as the Flyer who has the best rapport with the fans. ... The Penguins failed on all eight power-play opportunities. The Flyers went 0-for-4.


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