Flyers come up with 1-0 must-win over Devils

Nick Seeler

      PHILADELPHIA – If the Flyers fall short in a sprint to the playoff finish line, no one can say they didn’t give it their best.

      On Saturday, for the second straight game, the Flyers came up with what amounted to an all-out must-win to keep their playoff hopes alive for a bit longer.

      A 1-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center left the Flyers with their fingers crossed they would get some help in other games over the next few days.

      Regardless of how these games turn out, the Flyers will wake up Monday morning still alive in the playoff race and they have just one game left on their schedule.

      Remember the 2009-2010 season when the Flyers and Rangers met on the last day of the season with a playoff spot on the line in a winner-take-all scenario? That one ended with the Flyers winning in a shootout. This ending could be just as close.

      Travis Konecny’s NHL-leading sixth shorthanded goal at 10:50 of the second period got the Flyers the only goal they needed.

      With Cam Atkinson in the penalty box, Scott Laughton spotted Konecny breaking up the middle. Konecny rushed the net and beat goalie Kaapo Kahkonen glove side for his 33rd goal of the season.

      Flyers goaltender Sam Ersson continued with the same sharp play which helped defeat the Rangers on Thursday night in New York.

      The Konecny goal actually began with Nick Seeler making a nifty play to gain control of the puck with a dive, then forwarded it to Laughton, who was already breaking forward and had kind of left the defenseman on his own.

      “We were all connected there,” Konecny said later. “Thank God he was thinking what me and ‘Laughty’ were thinking. I don’t know what would have happened the other way. But it was a great play by him.”

      Added Laughton: “A little bit of trust and skills there. I was kind of cheatin’ up the ice. He (Seeler) made a great play. I saw TK out of the corner of my eye taking off and just tried to lead him. Scores a big goal for us. Live to fight another day. We continue to go, two big wins for us (including the Ranger victory). A good bounce-back from where we were at and what’s been going on.”

      As they did in New York, the Flyers upped the tempo and played quick transition hockey. It paid off.

     “What did we have, four goals (in New York) that way?”  Seeler said in a second intermission interview. “I think we need to play the same way here. Quick with the puck, quick up the ice and get our forecheck going.”

     During their recent eight-game (0-6-2) winless streak the Flyers didn’t seem to be getting much traffic in front of the opposition net. But they’ve been working on that.

     “Yeah, I think it’s necessary for us to get some net-front traffic,” Seeler said. “And get more shots from the point.”

     Although the first period went scoreless, the Flyers appeared to have the majority of good scoring chances.

      Their best opportunity for a goal came during an extended five-on-three power play, which lasted 1:13. However, the Flyers’ power play remains last in the NHL at 12.4 percent and there were no real quality opportunities.

      With the Devils out of contention, the Flyers tried their best to break New Jersey’s will.

      “I think part of our identity here is physical,” Seeler said. “Kind of getting in your face and killing plays as quick as you can.”

      Defenseman Erik Johnson just arrived at last month’s trade deadline, so he can offer a fresh perspective.

      “It gives us a chance to live another day, we all know that we need a little bit of help,” Johnson said. “But I know if you think you asked us if we had a chance at playoffs in game 82, I think a lot of people would say that’s a feather in this group’s cap. I know we let some points slip away down the stretch here but it gives us a chance to play the best time of the year. . .it gives us a chance to do that.”

      >Short shots

      The Flyers complete their regular-season schedule on Tuesday night when the Capitals hit town. . .The Flyers scratched forwards Nick Deslauriers Olle Lycksell plus defensemen Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning. . .After a strong string of road games midway through the season, the Flyers struggled down the stretch and finished just 18-16-7. . .Laughton played in his 600th NHL game.

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About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.