Surging Flyers beat Senators 3-2
PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Flyers have been scoreboard watching for a good portion of the last month as they make their push toward the postseason.
So when they looked at the out-of-town scores Saturday afternoon and saw the New York Islanders on the losing end, they made sure not to let their own game get away.
Philadelphia Flyers got two power-play goals from Wayne Simmonds, a strong effort from goaltender Steve Mason, and continued their surge toward the playoffs with a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
Thanks to the New York Islanders dropping a home game against Pittsburgh, the Flyers moved within two points of the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They remain two points ahead of Detroit for the final spot in the East with five games to go.
''We're trying to solidify our spot,'' Simmonds said. ''If we catch some teams on the way, then that's great. We just want to make sure that we're getting in. That's our goal.''
The Flyers built a 2-0 lead on power-play goals in the second period after a sloppy, scoreless first. Their first goal came when Jakub Voracek, playing the point, intercepted a failed clearing attempt by Ottawa's Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Voracek, uncovered at the point, quickly fired the puck toward the net to a wide-open Simmonds, who redirected the puck past goalie Andrew Hammond 1:30 into the second period.
''Their first power-play goal was just epitomized our year. We were trying to create something offensively when there was absolutely nothing there,'' Senators coach Dave Cameron said. ''We've been doing a good job of cleaning that up, and it crept back in.''
Less than two minutes later, Mike Hoffman intercepted a pass and skated in alone on Mason, but the goalie held his ground and kept his team ahead.
''That's a game changer right there,'' Voracek said. ''When a goalie makes that kind of stop you can relax.''
Relax they did, taking advantage of another Ottawa turnover to extend their lead.
Simmonds stole the puck behind the Ottawa net and found Sean Couturier alone in front. After a wild scramble in front of Hammond, Couturier scored, giving him 12 points in his last 14 games.
Simmonds' rebound goal in the third period, his 28th of the season, gave the Flyers their third power-play score of the day for a 3-1 lead.
''They did a great job today and that was the difference in the game for us,'' Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of his team's power-play unit.
The Senators cut the deficit to 3-2 with 7 1-2 minutes to play on Mike Hoffman's power-play goal, but Mason stood strong the rest of the way. Making his eighth start in a row, Mason stopped 33 shots while improving to 5-2-1 during the eight-game stretch.
Ottawa's first goal came late in the second period, Mika Zibanejad beating Mason with a low slap shot to cut the Flyers' lead to 2-1.
''Other than their power-play goals it was probably a 50-50 game, up for grabs,'' Hoffman said. ''Sometimes special teams can win you games.''
The Flyers are 10-2-2 since a 4-0 loss on home ice against lowly Edmonton on March 3. At that point, the Flyers were five points out of a playoff spot with 19 games to play.
Now they're in the driver's seat with five games left.
''We control our own destiny,'' Voracek said.
NOTES: Mason's eighth straight start made for his longest stretch of consecutive starts this season . Ottawa returns home for two games before ending its season next Saturday in Boston . The Flyers continued their domination of the Atlantic Division, improving to 13-5-4 while upping their overall March record to 10-3-2. The Senators gave up a game's first goal for the 50th time this season. Senators RW Chris Neil was assessed a 10-minute misconduct late in the second period for unsportsmanlike conduct. Neil tried to goad Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas into a fight, but Gudas kept his cool and Neil was sent off the ice.