The Flyers did more than just fend off the hard-charging Carolina Hurricanes for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference in Tuesday night’s 2-1 over the visiting Florida Panthers, but with just three games remaining in the season, the boys in Orange and Black are guaranteed themselves a return to the post season.
Seven minute into the third period with the game locked at one, Jeff Carter scored the game winner, giving his team the 2-1 lead.
“It’s a good feeling, you play all year to have a chance for the Stanley Cup, and it’s a good feeling,” said Carter, who scored his 45th of the year. “We knew Florida was going to come hard and we were ready for it and did alright.”
Goaltender Marty Biron handled the rest, making 29 saves on 30 shots, preserving the huge win.
“As a team, we’re focusing on the good things we’ve done of late,” Biron said. “With the locker room and offensive weapons we have, we can respond and make big plays. We have the weapons to get the job done.”
Flyers’ captain Mike Richards looked relieved to be in the playoffs for the second year in the row.
“We’ve done a great job all year of closing games out,” said Richards, who won the team MVP before the game. “Tonight we stayed patient, threw a lot of rubber t the net and one went in. It’s nice to be in the playoffs again, this is the time of year we play for, but we have one more goal in mind and that’s home ice advantage.”
The loss by Florida is devastating to its playoff hopes. The Panthers are currently in the ninth spot, two points away from the eight-seeded New York Rangers. Both teams have two games to play, with New York’s final two against the Flyers.
The Flyers remain tied with Carolina for the fourth spot in the conference with 97 points, but with a game in hand. The Hurricanes are also coming off a victory, putting the Islanders on the wrong side of a 9-0 score.
However, the win was not without a casualty. Defenseman Ryan Parent left the game in the second period due to a lower body injury. The injury did not seem serious, but possibly a lower body tweak that was handled with caution.
Philadelphia returns to action on Thursday, when it visits the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.