Detroit shuts out Flyers 3-0 as playoff race winds down

DETROIT (AP) If the Detroit Red Wings make the playoffs for a 25th straight year, they can thank Jimmy Howard.

Howard made 30 saves, Darren Helm, Andreas Athanasiou and Kyle Quincey scored for Detroit, and the Red Wings took a step toward another postseason appearance with a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.

The Red Wings (93 points) lead Boston (91) in the race for third place in the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia (91) is tied with the Bruins for the second wild card.

''I think it's just the paying attention to detail,'' Howard said. ''We've been a lot smarter with the puck - not forcing things, and just taking what's given.''

While teammate Petr Mrazek has struggled in net, Howard has won all three of his starts this month. Wednesday was his second shutout of the season.

The Flyers have three games remaining, while Detroit and Boston have two each. The Bruins host the Red Wings on Thursday night, and a win would put Detroit in the playoffs.

''From day one, we've had to grind out wins. Everything's been close,'' Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. ''We've never been truly comfortable in a playoff spot. At times, we've been on the outside looking in.''

Helm scored in the first period and Athanasiou added a short-handed goal in the second for Detroit, which hasn't missed the postseason since 1990. Quincey's goal was an empty-netter.

Detroit took a 1-0 lead on Helm's goal. Philadelphia's Shayne Gostisbehere was trying to help clear the puck by flinging it around behind the net from near the corner, but instead it went toward the goal and bounced in front, where Helm was able to flip it past Flyers goalie Steve Mason for his 13th goal of the season.

An even more glaring mistake led to the second goal. Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek let the puck get past him near the boards with the Flyers on the power play. There was nobody back to prevent Athanasiou from going in alone on a breakaway, and his eighth goal of the season made it 2-0.

''They played a good game. We played a good game too,'' Philadelphia's Claude Giroux said. ''They got a couple bounces. We had chances on the power play and at even strength.''

Mason made 23 saves. His most impressive sequence came in the second when he stopped a breakaway by Helm, then recovered in time to deny Luke Glendening's follow-up attempt.

Voracek hit the crossbar with a wrist shot in the second, and that's the closest the Flyers came to beating Howard.

Quincey's empty-net goal with 1:43 left in the game was a strange one. Skating near his own net, he tried to slam the puck around the glass to clear it. The puck bounced out at a weird angle and slid all the way down into the goal.

The Flyers host Toronto on Thursday night.

''We didn't get the job done so we just have to pivot real quick and look at the two points (Thursday) night,'' Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said.

NOTES: This was Detroit's last home game of the regular season. Pavel Datsyuk was honored before the game for reaching 600 assists recently, and fans chanted ''one more year'' at the 37-year-old star, hoping he will remain with the Red Wings. . The short-handed goal was only the second of the season by Detroit. . Philadelphia was without G Michal Neuvirth (lower body) and D Andrew MacDonald (upper body). ... Red Wings F Tomas Jurco replaced rookie Anthony Mantha in the lineup.

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