Wayne Simmonds scored twice to erase a 1-0 deficit and the Flyers punched their ticket to the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 win over the Penguins. Nick Bonino put the Pens ahead by converting a 2-on-1 with 8:03 left in the first period, but Simmonds tied it up with 1:03 to play in the frame and then gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead with a deflection of a Shayne Gostisbehere shot with 3:02 to play in the second. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare finished things off with an empty-netter with 58 seconds to go. Steve Mason made 18 of 19 in the win; Matt Murray started for Pittsburgh and made 11 saves in the first 15:25 before departing the game after a collision with Brayden Schenn. Jeff Zatkoff came on in relief and stopped 22 of 24. Stars of the Game: 1 – Wayne Simmonds; 2 – Claude Giroux; 3 – Steve Mason.
The Flyers appeared to be a little apprehensive at the start of the game and eventually watched Pittsburgh take a 1-0 lead. As the first period wound down, Pittsburgh had another scoring chance and nearly made it a 2-0 lead on a bid from Kael Mouillierat, but Mason made a 10-bell glove save on the winger and Pittsburgh didn’t see another scoring chance of that quality the rest of the afternoon. The Flyers scored just seconds later and played a calmer game the rest of the way, holding Pittsburgh to just nine shots in the final two periods.
1. Wayne Simmonds – recorded the game-tying and game-winning goals. Those two, combined with the game-tying goal Thursday, make him responsible for the final three standings points that got the Flyers into the playoffs. Simmonds had four shots on goal and was credited with two hits.
2. Claude Giroux – helped set up the first Simmonds goal and led the Flyers with seven shots on goal. He was 17-for-27 (63 pct) on faceoffs.
3. Steve Mason – nearly blanked the Penguins in his 12th consecutive start, turning aside 18-of-19.
The Flyers qualified for the playoffs with today’s win over Pittsburgh coupled with Boston’s loss to Ottawa. It will be the Flyers’ 38th appearance in the playoffs, and they will face the Washington Capitals in a playoff series for the fourth time… Michael Raffl led the Flyers with six hits… Shayne Gostisbehere led the Flyers with 22:50 TOI… Simmonds’s first period goal snapped a streak of eight consecutive games the Flyers had gone without a first-period goal.
“When Mase made that big save… you can hear the whole rink standing up, on their feet and clapping. And right after that, we scored. We got a PK and once again, Gudy blocked the shot, threw the puck on the other side and you see the whole rink standing up, and right after that, we score. We get that energy from the fans. It’s a great feeling to know that we have them behind us.”
“Sometimes things are going to go well and other times they’re not going to go the way that you want them but I think inside of our room from day one we believed in the group. We believed in the character and the work ethic of the group and from there it’s all the players. In terms of those guys digging in, sticking together, pushing each other to be better and in terms of the regular season it accommodates tonight with a good win that puts us into the playoffs.”