Two days after their coach said they looked like a "deer in headlights" early in Friday's loss, the Flyers were very un-Bambi-like on Sunday.
They outhit, outshot, and outplayed the New York Rangers.
Yet, it took a dramatic finish to overcome a one-goal deficit and rally them past the Rangers, 2-1, in breathtaking shoot-out that vaulted the Flyers into the playoffs before a roaring sellout crowd at the Wachovia Center. A loss would have ended the Flyers' season.
Claude Giroux scored what proved to be the game-decider on a shoot-out shot that, for him, was unconventional, and goalie Brian Boucher made the goal stand up by making a pad save on Olli Jokinen to end the thriller.
"I thought we were fantastic for 65 minutes and the shoot-out. The guys really did everything they possibly could to make sure that we were moving on," coach Peter Laviolette said after the Flyers earned a playoff berth for the 34th time in their 42-season history. "It was an emotional game, and I think we got rewarded for the game that we played."
With the victory, the Flyers clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and earned the right to play the Devils in the opening round, which starts Wednesday in Newark, N.J.
The Rangers, who went a gritty 7-1-2 down the stretch, finished ninth and out of the playoffs - one point behind eighth-seeded Montreal and the Flyers.
The Flyers dominated the game, but goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 46 saves and was the only reason the Rangers weren't routed.
Danny Briere opened the shoot-out by scoring on a forehand from in close.
"Scoring first was huge," Boucher said. "It got us going."
After Boucher stopped Erik Christensen on New York's first shoot-out attempt, Lundqvist got a pad on Mike Richards' shot to keep the Rangers within 1-0. P.A. Parenteau then lifted a close shot over Boucher to make it 1-1.
Next was Giroux, one of the Flyers' best stickhandlers and a player who usually tries to deke a goalie in shoot-outs.
Giroux, now 3 for 8 in shoot-out attempts, outsmarted Lundqvist. He skated into the low slot, stopped and, as he sized up the situation, fired a shot between the surprised goalie's legs.
"Before the game, I was talking to Jeff Reese, just trying to find out what were the options," said Giroux, referring to the Flyers' goalie coach. "He just told me to go slow. I was actually going to go blocker, but I saw the five-hole open, so I just shot it there."
Trailing by 1-0, the Flyers tied it - and sent the crowd into a frenzy - when Matt Carle scored a power-play goal with 13 minutes, 6 seconds left in the third period.
After Lundqvist stopped Briere's shot, Jeff Carter kept the rebound alive, and Carle scored on a backhander to make it 1-1.
"We were peppering him the whole game, and we knew if we stuck with it, something good was going to happen," said Carle, whose team had been in a 1-for-15 power-play funk before he scored. "I was fortunate it bounced right on my tape and I was able to bury it."
A little over a minute later, Lundqvist turned aside Simon Gagne's shot and had it bounce off the crossbar. It was the second time that the crossbar had saved the acrobatic Lundqvist. (The first time it was Carle.)
With 7:50 remaining in the third period, Lundqvist stopped James van Riemsdyk's spin-around shot, then made his best save of the game by somehow turning aside Giroux's rebound.
New York struck first as left winger Jody Shelley scored his second goal of the season - each against the Flyers in the last two games. Shelley, known more for his feistiness than his offense, was acquired from San Jose on Feb. 12 for a conditional draft pick in 2011.
Standing behind defenseman Ryan Parent in front of the net, Shelley tipped Michal Rozsival's point drive past a screened Boucher with 16:33 left in the first period.
About 31/2 minutes later, with the Flyers on a power play, Gagne was ahead of the pack, but Lundqvist made the save - and Gagne fired wide on the rebound with the goalie helpless.
New York failed to get a shot on goal in the final 13:05 of the first period. Still, the Flyers, despite an 18-4 shots advantage, left the ice facing a 1-0 deficit after the opening 20 minutes.
A little over two minutes into the second period, Ian Laperriere decisioned Aaron Voros in a fight, then waved his arms to the fans as if to say, "Let's get loud!" as he went to the penalty box.
Shortly thereafter, Boucher made a key save on Christensen as he came down the right wing on a two-on-one break.
After two periods, the Flyers were outshooting the Rangers, 30-13, and outhitting them, 26-17. But they were staring a 1-0 deficit because of Lundqvist.
Between the second and third periods, Laviolette told his players not to be discouraged, that they were playing their "A" game.
"You just have to trust the process," Laviolette said. "If you do the right things, I think you'll find the results you're looking for on most nights."
The process worked, thanks to Carle's opportunistic goal and, stunningly, Boucher outplaying Lundqvist in the shoot-out.
"They played hard, but they were worn down," defenseman Chris Pronger said of the injury-riddled Rangers. "They looked pretty tired. They were exhausted and we just kept coming and coming and coming."
Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.