PHILADELPHIA -- For the first time this season, the Philadelphia Flyers have a lead in the race for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Nick Cousins and Sam Gagner scored the shootout to give the Flyers a 2-1 win against the Washington Capitals at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.
Brayden Schenn scored in regulation and Steve Mason made 29 saves through overtime.
The victory moved the Flyers (38-25-13) two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia has a game in hand on Detroit.
"It's a nice feeling; however, there's lots of work to be done," Mason said. "Don't want to get too ahead of ourselves. After jockeying back and forth with them for the last little while to see a bit of progress is nice. We just have to make sure we keep moving forward."
Video: WSH@PHI: Schenn lights the lamp on the power play
Mason's saves on T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov in the shootout were a big reason the Flyers were able to move forward on Wednesday.
It was the Flyers' third shootout win of the season in 11 tries.
Oshie went first in the shootout, came in slow and tried a forehand-to-backhand deke but Mason stopped it with his right arm and body.
"He had composure, had a little cockiness to his game there in the shootout," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "Motivated the guys a little bit."
Video: WSH@PHI: Mason robs Kuznetsov in the shootout
Cousins, the Flyers' first shooter, skated in slowly and slid a low shot between Washington goaltender Braden Holtby's pads.
Kuznetsov came in slowly and faked Mason to the ice, but the goaltender was able to lunge forward and glove his attempt.
"You saw how slowly they were coming in," Mason said. "I think the idea there is to make sure the goalie loses his depth, and I tried to stay patient. The second one I didn't even come out to get set until he was past the top of the circles because of how slow he was coming in. [I] just tried to wait him out, and tonight I was fortunate. Just cover as much surface area as you can and take the angle, the trajectory of the shot and fortunately it went in the glove."
Gagner won it when he skated in on Holtby and snapped a wrist shot between his pads.
"It felt good," Giroux said. "It was a physical game. They're a good team on the other side. We battled hard and got only that one goal. They're one of the best teams we've played in a while here. It was fun to compete with them."
Video: WSH@PHI: Ovechkin opens the scoring with a snipe
Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals (54-16-6), and Holtby made 33 saves. Holtby remained at 46 wins, two short of the NHL single-season record held by Martin Brodeur.
The win eliminated the Ottawa Senators from playoff contention.
The Capitals, who clinched the Presidents' Trophy with their 4-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, relished the intense, playoff-style game as they try to elevate their game for the postseason.
"I think we enjoyed the battle," Ovechkin said. "The crowd was into it. These kinds of games are like the playoffs."
Video: WSH@PHI: Holtby robs Gostisbehere in overtime
The Capitals had a chance to win the game when they got a power play 32 seconds into overtime after Wayne Simmonds was called for tripping. Their best chance came when Nicklas Backstrom got an open look from the high slot but hit the post.
"They were going down blocking," Backstrom said. "They were down on their knees already, so I thought I had a spot there. Got unlucky and hit the post."
It was a goaltending duel through two periods until Ovechkin scored a power-play goal 1:28 into the third. Kuznetsov found a seam in the Flyers' penalty-killing unit and made a diagonal pass to Ovechkin in the left circle. With time and space, Ovechkin took a hard wrist shot that went over Mason's glove for his 44th of the season, third in his past 13 games. It was the 519th of his NHL career, passing Dale Hawerchuk for 35th all-time.
The Flyers tied the game on Schenn's power-play goal at 14:32. Schenn was in the slot and redirected Giroux's slap shot past Holtby for his 25th goal of the season.
Video: WSH@PHI: Mason dives across the crease, makes save
"We talked about it after the second [period]," Giroux said. "It's going to have to be a greasy goal. If he sees the puck he's going to stop it so we have to get in front of him. ... All year [Schenn and Simmonds] parked themselves there and they get those big goals that we always need. Just tried to get it on net there."
The Flyers don't plan on enjoying their victory long. They have six games remaining in three sets of back-to-backs, starting Saturday against the Ottawa Senators and Sunday at the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Nothing changes for us," coach Dave Hakstol said. "We're battling with several teams. Tonight was a nice step forward. That's what it is. We're excited with the way our group is playing. You can't just sit back and be excited about standings or points or anything like that. This group is playing hard, they're playing together and executing pretty well."
Video: Flyers edge Caps in shootout, 2-1