Claude Giroux scored two goals and continued to make a case to be the league MVP Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center, and his linemate, Travis Konecny, continued his remarkable resurgence since he was placed on the top line.
Those two forwards led the Flyers to a 4-3 overtime win over Boston and moved them within three points of clinching a playoff spot.
Giroux scored his 29th goal — a career high — on a breakaway with 1 minute, 21 seconds left in overtime to give the Flyers the victory. After taking a pass from Jake Voracek, he made a deft move and patiently lifted a backhander high into the net.
“He’s got so many moves in his bag, and he pulled out one of those highlight-reel goals,” defenseman Ivan Provorov said.
Skating right to left, Giroux was almost at the goal line, to the left of the net, when he deposited his second goal of the game.
“I was wondering where he was going, but he obviously had something in the back of his mind,” said smiling winger Matt Read, a late-season call-up who again contributed solid minutes.
Boston scored with 3.8 seconds left in regulation to tie the score — after the Flyers had four chances to clear the puck. Patrice Bergeron scored from the slot in the frantic final seconds, knotting the score at 3-all.
“We had to stay positive and forget about it,” said goalie Petr Mrazek, who stopped 36 of 39 shots.
That was the message delivered loudly after regulation by Voracek (two assists), whose team allowed Boston’s Brad Marchand to score with 22 seconds left to beat the Flyers, 3-2, on March 8.
The Flyers reduced their magic number for securing a playoff berth to three points. Any combination of points gained by the Flyers or not captured by Florida that total three will put the Flyers into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
In a virtual third-place tie with Columbus in the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers have three games left — two fewer than Florida.
“That’s one thing we can’t do — look up at the standings,” said Giroux, who, in addition to his two goals, was plus-3, and won 78 percent of his faceoffs as he badly outplayed Marchand (0 points, minus-2 ), another MVP candidate. “We just have to worry about our next game and do our job.”
The Flyers increased their points streak to eight games (5-0-3) and came within 3.8 seconds of handing Boston its first regulation loss in its last nine games (5-0-4). The Bruins are battling Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Despite playing on back-to-back days, the Bruins outshot the Flyers, 39-24.
Nolan Patrick, sent in alone by Oskar Lindblom, went top shelf and gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead with 14:29 left in the third. It was the rookie’s 11th goal and first in 14 games.
But the Bruins got to within 3-2 on David Pastrnak’s power-play goal with 13:06 to go, a shot that deflected off defenseman Andrew MacDonald and past Mrazek.
Earlier, just seven seconds after Mrazek made a spectacular glove save on Pastrnak’s point-blank shot, Giroux answered down the other end to give the Flyers a 1-0 first-period lead.
“I had a bad turnover there and Pistol made a huge save and then it comes back the other way,” Konecny said, referring to Mrazek by his nickname.
On a three-on-two rush, Provorov (two assists) skated down the middle of the ice and fed Konecny on the right, and the right winger found Giroux for a one-timer from the left circle. Giroux whipped a shot off the left post that caromed past Anton Khudobin with 10:22 left in the first.
“Provy drew the defenders, pulling the puck into the middle like that, and it opened up wide lanes for me and G,” said Konecny, who later scored probably the Flyers’ most artistic goal of the season. “I kind of one-touched it over to G and he did the rest.”
Just 25 seconds into the second, Konecny got around Pastrnak and Adam McQuaid by alertly flipping the puck into the air to himself deep in the Boston end, and then weaved around Bergeron — arguably the league’s best defensive forward — and put a shot between Khudobin’s legs.
The magical goal put the Flyers ahead, 2-1. It was Konecny’s 24th goal and sixth in the last eight games. He has 20 goals in the last 39 games, most of them since he was moved to the top line.
“Just instinct,” Konecny said about his series of dazzling moves. “I just reacted.”
Mrazek, who stopped all 17 shots he faced in relief of the injured Michal Neuvirth in Wednesday’s 2-1 win in Colorado, continued his turnaround and played another strong game.
No save was bigger than the one he made on Pastrnak with 10:29 left in the first and the game scoreless.
“It lifts us for sure,” Konecny said. “…When he stands on his head like that, that’s pretty impressive.”
“It was a momentum-changer,” MacDonald said.