Voracek’s goal leads Flyers to crucial win over Hurricanes
PHILADELPHIA (AP) A crucial victory kept the Flyers in control of their own playoff destiny.
Claude Giroux, Ivan Provorov and Michael Raffl also scored for Philadelphia, which began play holding the second and final wild card, four points ahead of Florida. The Flyers would have clinched a playoff spot if Boston beat the Panthers, but Florida topped the Bruins 3-2 later Thursday.
Philadelphia can secure a playoff spot in its final regular-season game on Saturday with a victory over the Rangers or an overtime loss. A Florida loss in either of its final two games, Saturday against Buffalo and Sunday at Boston, also would send Philadelphia to the postseason.
”We got the job done tonight,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. ”Now we have a big one Saturday afternoon.”
The Flyers seemed in great shape when Giroux put them up 3-2 with 9:42 remaining behind a wrist shot that beat goalie Scott Darling. It extended the Flyers captain’s career-high totals to 31 goals and 98 points. Flyers fans shouted ”M-V-P!” `’M-V-P!” when Giroux was shown on the video board following the tally.
The Hurricanes erased the lead when Brian Elliott let in his second soft goal of the game, this one Jordan Staal’s backhander from a sharp angle near the side boards with 6:19 left.
Elliott returned to work after missing the last 25 games following core muscle surgery on Feb. 13. Elliott, who was injured on Feb. 10, entered 21-11-7 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .908 save percentage this season. He finished with 19 saves.
”It’s almost like opening-night jitters again,” Elliott said. ”It’s hard to replicate a game in practice.”
Voracek scored on a wrist shot from a sharp angle that got past Darling’s left shoulder.
It was enough to send the Flyers to victory.
”We battled hard, we grinded it out and we played the right way,” Giroux said.
Philadelphia’s captain is feeling good about his team’s chances in their final – and most important – game.
”We like the way we’re playing right now,” he said. ”Everybody is doing their job, doing what they’re best at. Normally when you do that, you get wins.”
Klas Dahlbeck and Sebastian Aho also scored for Carolina, which has lost three straight and four of five. The Hurricanes had already been eliminated from playoff contention.
”We got better as the game went on and more competitive as the game went on,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said.
The Flyers dominated the opening 10 minutes, outshooting Carolina 13-3, but couldn’t get on the board. The Hurricanes finally struck with 6:15 left in the first when Dahlbeck netted his first goal in his 32nd game of the season and just the sixth in his 169-game career.
Raffl answered 53 seconds later when he banged home a shot in front after Giroux’s pass was intercepted by Carolina’s Justin Williams but went fortuitously to Raffl in front of the net.
The Hurricanes quickly broke the tie when Aho scored on a backhander from a sharp angle to the right of Elliott 14 seconds after Raffl’s tally. The goal was a soft one for Elliott.
Philadelphia scored the only goal in the second period when Provorov finished an excellent pass from Sean Couturier right in front of Darling to tie it at 2. The tying score came after some near misses in the period for Philadelphia, as Jori Lehtera hit the post from close range and Voracek missed a golden opportunity from Darling’s doorstep two minutes later.
NOTES: Giroux has five goals and 10 assists during a nine-game point streak. … Aho extended his team-leading totals to 29 goals and 65 points. … Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere each had two assists.
Hurricanes: Host Tampa Bay on Saturday night to end regular season.
Flyers: Host Rangers on Saturday to finish regular season.
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