The Flyers did their part … barely.
In Game 81 and with an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot Thursday night, Dave Hakstol's team dusted itself off from the Islanders letdown by beating the Hurricanes, 4-3, in a wild, back-and-forth contest at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers (41-26-14) had to get some help, though, to secure a postseason bid before Saturday's regular-season finale.
Holding the Eastern Conference's second wild-card position, the Flyers came into Thursday two points behind the Penguins and Blue Jackets, one back of the Devils and four ahead of the Panthers.
All four teams were in action (see scoreboard).
To punch their ticket Thursday, the Flyers needed a win (in any fashion) and a Panthers’ loss to the Bruins (in any fashion), or to gain one point and the Panthers lose in regulation.
Florida beat Boston, 3-2, and has two more games remaining to the Flyers' one. While the Flyers finish the regular season Saturday at home against the Rangers, the Panthers host the Sabres Saturday and travel to the Bruins Sunday.
For the Flyers, it's win and they're in (see story).
They haven't missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns. The last time they won a postseason series was 2011-12.
The 96 points and 41 wins match Hakstol's career bests set in 2015-16, his first season leading the Flyers.
• Jakub Voracek made a terrific play up ice before sniping the game-winner late in the third period just after the Hurricanes scored the equalizer. The Wells Fargo Center went from dead quiet to elation.
JAKE V😲RACEK GIVES THE FLYERS THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/Yqpzgz2cWk— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 6, 2018
• Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux teamed up for a dandy go-ahead goal midway through the third period. Surrounded by two Hurricanes skaters, Couturier snatched the puck out of midair, put it to the ice and then spun to feed Giroux for a nasty wrist shot. Giroux's 31st goal and 98th point of his career season elicited a standing ovation from fans.
• Ivan Provorov has turned up the offense in a big way. With just over five minutes left in the second period and the Flyers trailing, 2-1, Provorov went to the net and batted home a pass from Couturier to knot the score. Couturier stayed patient with the puck before finding Provorov, who has three goals and three assists in the last five games. The Flyers desperately needed that tally before second intermission.
• The Flyers put together a more than adequate first period. In the opening 12 minutes, they sustained pressure and were all over the Hurricanes. However, at first intermission, the Flyers found themselves down, 2-1. Brian Elliott allowed a pair of preventable goals to Klas Dahlbeck and Sebastian Aho.
• Michael Raffl did what he always does, going straight to the net to punch home a loose puck for the 1-1 equalizer at 14:38 of the first. That's when Aho scored his goal 14 seconds later, sneaking the puck past Elliott to erase any momentum the Flyers had gained at the time.
• The Flyers entered Thursday allowing 3.53 goals per game since March 1. Elliott's return from core muscle surgery on Feb. 13 was warmly welcomed, but he struggled mightily. All three goals allowed were considerably weak, the worst being Jordan Staal's third-period marker to tie the game at 3-3. He flung an innocuous shot along the goal line that somehow squeaked between the post and Elliott's pad. Voracek saved him 34 seconds later.
Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling was under pressure from start to finish, making 30 saves.
• Andrew MacDonald did not have his best night. He whiffed on a puck near the Hurricanes' blue line and also appeared to skate into the Flyers' goal post while trying to break up a Carolina scoring chance.
• The recipients of the Flyers' annual end-of-the-season awards:
Bobby Clarke Trophy (MVP) — Claude Giroux
Barry Ashbee Trophy (Best defenseman) — Shayne Gostisbehere
Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award (Best character) — Sean Couturier
Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy (Most improved) — Sean Couturier
Gene Hart Memorial Award (Most heart) — Sean Couturier
• The Flyers close the regular season when they host the Rangers Saturday (3 p.m./NBC). New York is playing for nothing. The Flyers, for plenty.