Flyers edge Devils in Game 81, keep playoff hopes alive for now


Flyers edge Devils in Game 81, keep playoff hopes alive for now originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

A couple of days ago, with three games left, John Tortorella said he wanted the Flyers to keep it interesting despite having dwindling playoff hopes.

They have kept it interesting.

The Flyers, in must-win territory again Saturday, picked up a 1-0 victory over the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center.

They have one game to go and their postseason push is still alive for now. After the win, they blasted “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers in the locker room.

“It’s nowhere near a playoff atmosphere, but it’s our step that we’re taking to playing these type of games at the end of the year to get in,” Tortorella said. “We’re close, so I think it’s a great process for us. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re just going to go out and play hard and see where we are at the end Tuesday night.”

Travis Konecny scored the game’s only goal for the Flyers (38-32-11), who have won two straight after losing a season-worst eight in a row.

“Guys are excited to play for one another right now,” Konecny said. “We’ve got one left to try to get it done.”

The Flyers went 2-1-1 against the Devils (38-38-5) in their four-game regular-season series.

New Jersey was without 22-year-old star Jack Hughes, who was shut down this week because of a shoulder injury.

• Before the game started, the Flyers’ only path to the playoffs became the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

The Islanders picked up a point with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Rangers, making it impossible for the Flyers to finish in third place of the Metropolitan Division.

The Flyers entered Saturday chasing the Islanders (third place) and Penguins (second wild card). They were a point back of the Penguins and tied with the Capitals and Red Wings. All four teams were in action Saturday and all four have played one fewer game than the Flyers.

After the Flyers won to jump the Penguins by a point, the Capitals beat the Lightning, 4-2, to take over the second wild-card position via the tiebreaker of fewer games played.

The Red Wings are on the road against the Maple Leafs tonight and the Penguins host the Bruins. Here’s the latest in the standings.

“I might’ve had a game on today,” Scott Laughton said of the scoreboard watching. “We’ll see what happens. You can’t really control it. You control what you can do but, yeah, I’ll probably have the TV on tonight.”

The Flyers came into Saturday with a 15.1 percent chance to make playoffs, per MoneyPuck.com, and a 5.5 percent chance, according to Hockey-Reference.com.

• Coming off a strong performance in the Flyers’ 4-1 win Thursday over the NHL-best Rangers, Samuel Ersson delivered a second straight reliable start.

The 24-year-old rookie converted 20 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.

New Jersey netminder Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 20 of the Flyers’ 21 shots.

The Flyers came up empty in the first period when they had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:13 minutes. Ultimately, it didn’t cost them.

The club’s league-worst power play went 0 for 3.

• With the Flyers’ season on the line, Konecny has taken his game to another level.

His marker in the second period was his NHL-leading ninth shorthanded goal over the last two seasons. Nick Seeler made an excellent defensive play to spring Konecny and Laughton the other way for the 1-0 lead.

The Flyers’ defenseman dove to poke a loose puck as Laughton turned up ice.

“I think the biggest part was he thought Laughts was going to get it and then Laughts took off,” Erik Johnson said. “Seels was like, ‘Oh, God, I better get this or [the Devils] might get a chance.’ Me and Seels thought Laughty was going to get it but he took off reading the play. Seels was right there and made a good play. T.K. and Laughts finished it off.

“To get a shorty and get the momentum in our favor, especially to score first, is big for us.”

In the last two games (both wins), Konecny has two goals and an assist. The Flyers have needed that vintage Konecny.

• Wayne Simmonds was honored before the game with a video tribute and ceremonial puck drop. The beloved former Flyer signed a one-day contract to officially retire where he spent parts of eight seasons.

“He was screaming at the bench after he dropped the puck, trying to get us going,” Laughton said. “He’s the ultimate Flyer.”

• The Flyers wrap up the regular season Tuesday when they host the Capitals (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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