Flyers still control destiny, but leave little room for error

   OTTAWA _ With just two wins in their last six games, the Flyers aren't exactly charging into the playoffs.

  Yes, they picked up a point in Saturday night's 4-3 shoot-out loss in Ottawa, but they fell into a fourth-place tie with streaking Carolina in the Eastern Conference.

   The Flyers finished 1-2-1 against lowly Ottawa this season.

   After Sunday's action, it has come down to this: 

   * * The Flyers have four games left and have 95 points.

   * * Carolina has three games left and has 95 points.

   * * Pittsburgh has three games left and has 93 points.

   * * Montreal, which has quietly entered the race for the No. 4 seed, has four games left and has 92 points.

     The Flyers can clinch the fourth seed _ and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs _ if they go 3-0-1 in their last four games. The Flyers play host to Florida Tuesday, play on the road against the Rangers on Thursday and against the Islanders on Saturday, then conclude the regular season by hosting the Rangers on Easter Sunday.

   The No. 4 and No. 5 seeds will meet in a first-round series that seems destined to go six or seven games.

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   Before Saturday's game, coach John Stevens was undecided about his goalie rotation for the rest of the way. The guess here is that Marty Biron will get the call Tuesday, but we'll see. Stevens will address the issue at Monday's practice.

    Antero Niittymaki, who slammed his stick against the goal post after Ottawa scored the game-winner in the shoot-out, was solid in Saturday's game and couldn't be faulted for any of the goals. One of the goals was scored on a five-on-three power play that was triggered, in part, by Dan Carcillo's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

    Fourth-line center Darroll Powe gets my vote as the Flyers' best player in Saturday's loss. Powe scored on a penalty shot, drew a penalty that led to a PP goal, and led the Flyers with four hits.

* * * * * * * 

    Shoot-out blues: The Flyers are now 4-6 in shoot-outs this season and 12-24 in their history.

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  In Sunday's Inquirer, I look at some of the goalie possibilities if the Flyers decide not to re-sign Biron in the off-season. Biron and Niittymaki are potential free agents, and it's unlikely the Flyers will sign both of them.