In three weeks this might mean nothing. Or everything.
That’s how tightly packed the Atlantic Division has become. A point or two could mean the difference between a playoff date with the No. 8 seed, or opening on the road. Should the Flyers manage to sneak their way into that coveted top spot in those three weeks, they may well point to yesterday’s 3-2 overtime win over the sizzling Penguins.
When Scott Hartnell beat the clock, scoring with 0.9 left, not only did it snap their cross-state rivals’ 11-game winning streak, but showed the Flyers are convinced they can play with anybody.
“Whether we play them in the first round or the conference finals, it’ll be a good test,” said Claude Giroux. “We’re not going to back down. We know they’re a good team. But we’re a good team, too.”
Coming off a 3-2 shootout loss in Boston on Saturday — where the Flyers also overcame a 2-0 deficit — the win moves Peter Laviolette’s club (92 points) within two points of second-place Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, the slumping Rangers (95) have seen their once 12-point cushion reduced to just three. Both clubs have a game in hand over Philadelphia.
“Odds are that we are going to end up with these guys in the first round,” said Hartnell. “We got a point on them tonight, so we’re one step closer to getting home ice. We play them twice in Pittsburgh, so it’s not going to be easy.”
Especially after Ilya Bryzgalov turned in another strong performance, yielding only Craig Adams’ first-period deflection and Evgeni Malkin’s late second period score, while turning aside 38 shots.
“Bryz has been unbelievable the last couple of weeks,” said birthday boy Kimmo Timonen, who got the Flyers on the board on the power play 31 seconds into the final period. “But we’ve been playing really well lately.”