Flyers Dominate Penguins in Shutout to Keep Wild-card Hopes Alive


The Flyers did what they were supposed to do: take advantage of a tired hockey team that was delayed getting here from Western Canada by the snow.
The Flyers ambushed them.
And they stayed with it till the bitter end. Not satisfied with three goals, the Flyers got a fourth in the final two minutes.
A perfect blueprint of a 4-0 shutout Wednesday night over the Pittsburgh Penguins that kept the Flyers' wild-card hopes alive at Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
"It's the type of effort needed every game," goalie Steve Mason said. "That's the type of hockey that dictates how you win games. This is an effort you can look back on and use a building block.

"With the Penguins, you have to have your best stuff. We're letting the season slip away. For us to come up with a big effort and stop the bleeding, hopefully, we can build off this for the final [13] games."
Pittsburgh finished up its five-game, injury-filled road trip 3-1-1. Among the key casualties were Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist. 

Again, the Flyers did what they had to do and took advantage of key players not in the lineup.
"We told ourselves it's about us," team captain Claude Giroux said, who added the Flyers knew the Pens were banged up and had issues getting to Philadelphia.
"It's about us playing our game. They came at us pretty hard in the first and we kind of settled down and just kept playing."
They held the Penguins to just 23 shots as Mason barely worked up a sweat. Offensively, Sean Couturier (one goal) had a career-high eight shots while the Flyers got goal production from two lines and their struggling power play.
"We hadn't gotten results over the last two games. Toronto and Boston we could have walked away with points and didn't get the start at home we needed against Columbus," coach Dave Hakstol said.
"In terms of our approach and demeanor and presence, there has been no change. It's a focused group that's working for the next game."
To watch the Flyers' up-tempo, start-to-finish play against Pittsburgh, you're left asking yourself where was this in February when all of the good the team had piled up in a 10-game win streak evaporated.
Why didn't this happen last week before the Flyers fell seven points behind in the wild-card race?
"You can play good games and not win, but you got to win hockey games to make the playoffs," Giroux said. "It's frustrating coming to the rink every day and knowing we are a better team than we are in the standings. It's really frustrating."
This one seemed easy.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray gave up a fat rebound in the opening minute of the second period to Couturier, who roofed it under the crossbar for just his second goal in 17 games to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
Murray hasn't made a habit of awarding rebounds, but he repeated the error five minutes later during a Flyers power play. Wayne Simmonds burned him to make it 2-0. This time it was a rebound off his pad from Shayne Gostisbehere's point shot.
Simmonds' 15 power-play goals ties Brayden Schenn for the NHL lead. That was really all the Flyers needed, yet they kept coming.
Again, where was this predatory instinct during the third period in both Toronto and Boston? Win those games, and it's a different outlook right now.
"Obviously, through the last little bit, I think we've strung some good pieces of games together but we haven't played the full 60 minutes," Simmonds said.
"Maybe we played 58 minutes. … We did really well and in the third period, we didn't sit back. We had a ton of chances."
Even Dale Weise, who hadn't scored a goal since last fall (33 games ago), got into the picture. There was a ping-pong shot from Schenn, off a Penguin, then off Weise's stick at the end to put a final dagger in Pittsburgh's chest.
That was the kind of lucky break that has eluded the Flyers much of the season. An accidental ricochet off a stick.
What usually happens is it goes off a Flyers' stick into the other net, like it did in Boston on Saturday to Brandon Manning.
"Been a long time since I got a bounce like that," Weise said. "It feels real good. It's been a frustrating year for me.
"We've had games like this where we just haven't gotten the bounces. Coots' (Couturier's) goal there off me, rebound off his tape. He scores. It's frustrating. That's kind how it's been all year. We haven't got those bounces.
"We've had complete efforts … 0-0 and they scored with five minutes left. Plenty of those. It would be nice if we had had a couple of these during the year."
The Flyers have 13 games left and are five points behind in the wild-card chase. However, they will need help because so many remaining games involve teams ahead of them in three-point possibilities.
"I still believe this is a group that can get on a roll," Weise said. "When we get a little bit of confidence in here, we get pretty streaky."

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