The Flyers’ equaled a dubious franchise record Sunday _ most losses (eight) in any nine-game home span _ but they at least salvaged a valuable point.
For that, they can thank their Alphabet Soup Line. That is, the three players known simply by letters _ Claude Giroux (G), Nik Zherdev (Z) and James van Riemsdyk (JVR).
The line scored both goals in the Flyers’ 3-2 shootout loss to the visiting New York Rangers.
Zherdev, a healthy scratch for 12 straight games until playing Friday in New Jersey, scored a third-period goal that tied the score at 2-2 and took six shots. He was one of the Flyers’ best players and is making a strong case to be in the lineup during the playoffs.
Van Riemsdyk scored the Flyers’ first goal and played with physicality, while Giroux contributed two assists and was named the game’s No. 2 star.
The Flyers are tied for the Eastern Conference lead with Washington, but they have the tie-breaker (most non-shootout wins) over the Capitals.
They also moved three points ahead of the Penguins in the Atlantic Division.
The Flyers, Caps and Penguins each have three regular-season games left. The Flyers will win the division with three points, regardless of how the Penguins fare; they can win the conference by sweeping their final three games.
Despite their recent struggles _ six losses in their last eight games _ the Flyers can wrap up the division as early as Tuesday.
Here are the remaining schedules for the three teams:
Flyers: at Ottawa on Tuesday; at Buffalo on Friday; vs. Islanders on Saturday.
Capitals at Toronto on Tuesday; vs. Florida on Wednesday; at Florida on Saturday.
Penguins: vs. New Jersey on Tuesday; at Islanders on Friday; at Atlanta on Sunday.
* * *
The Flyers had the edge in the third period and overtime, but winger Scott Hartnell did not like how they played in the second period.
“It’s collectively, it’s not just a line or a couple of guys," Hartnell said. "We’re not finishing checks and we’re not getting pressure on the forecheck. At the beginning of the year, we were a group of five out there cycling non stop. Now it seems like it’s just one good shift and two off. It’s not winning hockey.
“It’s going to be a short playoff season if we don’t correct it now.”
* * *
For constant Flyers updates, follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.
Get exclusive videos and analysis in our new app for iPhone and Android. Download it here.