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Flyers advance with shootout win over Rangers

by Dan Rosen
PHILADELPHIA -- Peter Laviolette kept delivering the same message Sunday that he had been preaching for the three or so weeks -- Trust the process because most of the time it will get you to where you want to go.

The Flyers, just 3-7-1 over their last 11 coming into Sunday's winner-take-all game against the New York Rangers, wanted to get to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They did by doing exactly what their coach told them to do.

Philadelphia played strong for 65 minutes at Wachovia Center, but still needed goals from Danny Briere and Claude Giroux, plus a pair of saves by Brian Boucher in the shootout, to clinch a playoff berth with a 2-1 win.

The Flyers, who outshot the Rangers, 47-25, wrapped up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and will open the playoffs either Wednesday or Thursday at New Jersey.

Henrik Lundqvist made 46 saves and Rangers forward P.A. Parenteau scored in the shootout, but Boucher (24 saves) stuffed Olli Jokinen in the last half of the third round to seal it.

"I thought they were fantastic for 65 minutes and a shootout," Laviolette said. "Guys did everything they possibly could to make sure we were moving on. It's an emotional game and I think we got rewarded for the game we played. I thought we played a terrific hockey game. Our guys played about as hard as they could, they really did."

Considering the shots on goal and time of possession, the Rangers couldn't say they dominated the play, but they did give themselves a chance to do something that three weeks ago nobody thought was possible.

The Rangers were 10th in the East after a 2-1 loss at Boston on March 21. They were counted out, but went on a 7-1-1 run to make Sunday's game matter.

"I think we gave ourselves a chance by playing the way we did down the last three weeks," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal told "It would have sucked to lose 2-1 in regulation and it sucks to lose in a shootout. Either way it's a loss. The format is the way it is, it's just that this was Game 82 and the winner gets in. We lost and it sucks."

The Flyers fell behind just 3:27 into the game when Jody Shelley's deflection of Michal Rozsival's shot from the right point found its way past Boucher. It was Shelley's second goal in as many games and only his second goal of the season.

Unlike Friday night at Madison Square Garden, when Philadelphia grabbed a 1-0 lead only to flat line for the rest of the first period, the Flyers were relentless. They had 18 shots to the Rangers' four after just 20 minutes.

New York didn't have a shot for the final 13:05 of the first period. The Flyers had 12 in that span.

The scoreboard still didn't read right for the Flyers, but they were happy with their game and they kept up that same pressure in the second period and right on through to the third even though it remained 1-0 Rangers.

Finally, with 13:06 remaining in regulation and the Flyers on a power play, defenseman Matt Carle found a way to get the puck past Lundqvist to knot the game at 1-1.

Jeff Carter stole the puck from Artem Anisimov in the neutral zone and moved it quickly to Scott Hartnell, who crossed a pass to Briere set up for a one-timer from the left circle. Lundqvist stopped it, but the rebound came to Carter, who got the puck over to Carle in the slot. The young defenseman flipped it into the right side of the net.

"I saw the puck just laying there and I didn't know whether to fire it in with my backhand or pick it up and carry it over to the far post," Carle said. "Lundqvist is pretty quick in there and I was able to get it by him."

It was the Flyers' 36th shot of the game.

"We were relentless all game," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "We threw everything at the net. We finished our checks and we moved the puck extremely well. Between periods there was talk about just keep going, keep throwing pucks at the net. We were hitting posts and crossbars and we knew if we kept throwing pucks at the net one would go in eventually."

The Flyers tested Lundqvist with 15 shots in the third period and two more in overtime. Boucher also faced two shots in overtime and made a huge save on Marian Gaborik with about 40 seconds left.

"He played outstanding all game," Laviolette said of Boucher. "You can go back to any save if you really wanted to. I thought we were pretty tight defensively, we didn't give up a whole lot, but there was a big save in the third period, a kick save in overtime and the saves in the shootout. He was dialed in and really focused for the entire game."

Even though this one had the buzz and importance of a Game 7, it was still Game 82 of the regular season so instead of playing on in overtime, the game went to a shootout.

Briere scored first on a backhand to forehand move. Boucher made a save on Erik Christensen, but Richards couldn't build on the Flyers' lead. Parenteau tied the shootout, sending it into the third round.

Giroux, who usually dekes on his shootout attempts, decided this time to skate in slowly and fire a shot from right around the inner hash marks. Lundqvist couldn't close his legs fast enough to stop Giroux's shot.

"I was just looking for where I could shoot it and I wanted to come there pretty slow," Giroux said. "I saw the five-hole so I tried to surprise him."

Boucher stuffed Jokinen and the celebration was on. The Flyers are in the playoffs.

"We played 65 hard minutes," Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said. "For it to come down to a shootout in the 82nd game, who'd have scripted that in the beginning of the year."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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