PITTSBURGH _ As they demonstrated last year _ in the final game of the regular season and in the Stanley Cup playoffs _ the Flyers like playing with their backs against the proverbial wall.
Playing their most important matchup of the season Tuesday, the Flyers picked a good time to put together one of their best all-around performances in the last five weeks.
They scored an impressive 5-2 win in Pittsburgh _ a victory that should pave the way for Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division titles _ and their much maligned power play contributed mightily. Ditto the Danny Briere line (seven points, plus-7), which had been stagnant in recent weeks.
“We needed to have a big effort. We’ve kind of been slacking the last little while,” said Scott Hartnell, who tied the game at 2-2 with a second-period power-play goal. “Our third periods haven’t been that great, but to nail it down like we did, well, guys are having fun joking around. It’s nice to put a little space between us and Pittsburgh, as well.”
Rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was solid, the turnovers were greatly reduced, and the penalty kill was terrific as the Flyers moved four points ahead of Pittsburgh in the conference and division races.
If they get the top seed, the Flyers will likely face Buffalo or Carolina in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Flyers are three points ahead of Washington in the East.
The Flyers’ magic number is six points to win the Atlantic. Any combination of points gained by the Flyers and not gained by the Penguins, totaling six, will give Philadelphia the title.
The magic number is seven (provided they have at least three non-shootout wins) over the Caps in the East.
On Tuesday, the Flyers scored one power-play goal, and another goal was scored just as a Penguins penalty expired.
In addition, they committed just three turnvoers _ 17 fewer than their season-worst 20 against Boston in Sunday's loss.
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Veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who apparently injured his hip in Tuesday's win, was "feeling much better today" and is probable for Thursday's game against visiting Atlanta, GM Paul Holmgren said.
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The Flyers were given Wednesday off....After hosting Atlanta on Thursday, they play in New Jersey on Friday…..Tuesday’s win was just the Flyers’ seventh in the last 17 games (7-5-5).....There are 300 tickets left for Thursday. ….Before the game, former Flyers star Bill Barber will be honored, and replica No. 7 jerseys will be given to fans.
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For constant Flyers updates, follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter at www.twitter.com./BroadStBull.
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