Flyers beat Penguins 3-1, knock Bruins out of playoffs


Flyers beat Penguins 3-1, knock Bruins out of playoffs

PHILADELPHIA -- With their ailing owner watching from home, the Philadelphia Flyers clinched a playoff berth.

Wayne Simmonds scored two goals, Steve Mason stopped 18 shots and the Flyers beat the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Saturday to earn the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

"It's a great feeling," rookie coach Dave Hakstol said. "It's a win and playoff berth for Mr. (Ed) Snider and the unbelievable fans."

Snider, the 83-year-old franchise founder and Hall of Fame executive, watched Lauren Hart sing "God Bless America" on FaceTime as the team's longtime anthem singer held out her phone during her performance. She blew kisses after the song.

"You get a little emotional when you start to think about it," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "We know he's happy we made the playoffs."

The Flyers' win eliminated Boston, which lost to Ottawa 6-1 earlier in the day. The Bruins lost a tiebreaker to Detroit. Philadelphia will meet top-seeded Washington in the first round. The Penguins, who are the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, will play the Rangers or Islanders.

"It's just the beginning for us," Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek said. "We can't be satisfied. We have a good enough team to beat Washington and we have to focus on that."

Pittsburgh rested Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang and played without Evgeni Malkin for the 15th consecutive game because of an upper-body injury.

Penguins goaltender Matt Murray was injured in a collision with Brayden Schenn and left the game in the first period. Murray has started five straight games because Marc-Andre Fleury is out with a concussion. Coach Mike Sullivan said Murray will be evaluated on Monday.

"We regret that he got hurt," Sullivan said. "When you play hockey, you always run that risk. We felt like we made the best decisions for our hockey team that were going to put us in a position to move forward."

Murray's mask flew off when Schenn banged into him, but he made the save on the backhander. Jeff Zatkoff replaced Murray for his first appearance since Feb. 20 and allowed a goal on the first shot he faced.

The Flyers took a 2-1 lead late in the second period when Shayne Gostisbehere ripped a slap shot that bounced off Simmonds' right arm and fluttered past Zatkoff for his 32nd goal.

Philadelphia couldn't take advantage during a five-minute power play in the third period, but Pierre-Edouard Bellemare later sealed it with an empty-net goal in the final minute.

Making his 12th straight start, Mason gave the Flyers a boost with a sprawling, side-to-side glove save to rob Kael Mouillierat late in the first period.

Seconds later, Simmonds scored to tie it at 1-1. Voracek skated down the left side and sent a centering pass to a Simmonds streaking down the middle. Simmonds fought off a defender and slid it past Zatkoff.

Pittsburgh's Eric Fehr then hit the post in the final minute.

Nick Bonino gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the first on his ninth goal. He beat Mason with a wrister off a crossing pass from Carl Hagelin.

"Of course you want to win every game against the Flyers, there's nothing better than beating them," Pittsburgh's Oscar Sundqvist said. "But it just didn't happen."

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.