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game recap

Simmonds scores twice in Flyers win

Philadelphia defeats Ottawa to maintain second wild card

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Simmonds' fantastic deflection

OTT@PHI: Simmonds opens the scoring with a PPG

4/2/16: Wayne Simmonds makes a perfect tip on Jakub Voracek's pass that gets by Andrew Hammond, putting the Flyers up 1-0 off the power play

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PHILADELPHIA -- Simpler proved better for the Philadelphia Flyers and their top power-play unit Saturday.

Led by two goals and an assist from Wayne Simmonds, the Flyers' top man-advantage group scored each of Philadelphia's goals in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Wells Fargo Center. 

Sean Couturier scored, and Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek each had two assists. Steve Mason made 33 saves for Philadelphia (39-25-13), which won its third straight. 

Mike Hoffman had a goal and an assist for Ottawa (36-34-9), and Mika Zibanejad scored. Andrew Hammond made 33 saves. 

Video: OTT@PHI: Zibanejad gloves puck down and beats Mason

The Flyers are a point ahead of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The win also pulled the Flyers within two points of the New York Islanders for the first wild card. The Islanders lost 5-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. 

"We just want to make the playoffs," Simmonds said. "We're trying to make the playoffs and solidify our spot. If we catch some teams on the way in that's great. We just want to make sure we're getting in. That's our goal."

The performance of the top power-play unit certainly helped them get one step closer to that goal. That unit features Giroux on the half-wall, Schenn and Simmonds near the net, and Shayne Gostisbehere and Voracek at the points. But despite that talent, the unit had a 10-game stretch without a power-play goal end when Schenn scored with the extra man Wednesday against the Washington Capitals.

"We're moving more, getting pucks to the net," Giroux said. "Want to put pucks to the net. Wayne and [Schenn] are good around the net. We just keep it simple." 

Video: OTT@PHI: Hoffman blasts slap shot by Mason for PPG

Special teams was the difference in the game. Hoffman's goal was the Senators' first on the power play in 15 games. But the penalty kill, which entered 29th in the League, let them down.

"It's nice to break out of the one slump with the power-play goal, but obviously our penalty killing hasn't been great all year," Hammond said. "To give up three in one game, you're not going to win too many games doing that. So a frustrating game overall."

After a scoreless first period, the Flyers got a power play early in the second. Pressure from Giroux caused the Senators' Jean-Gabriel Pageau to throw the puck right to Voracek at the right point. Simmonds cut to the net and redirected Voracek's pass past Hammond 1:30 into the second. 

Couturier, who jumped on the first unit, scored on the power play at 11:14 of the second when he got the rebound of a Schenn shot and lifted it over a fallen Hammond for his 11th of the season to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

Video: OTT@PHI: Couturier roofs loose puck for PPG

After Zibanejad's goal at 17:48 of the second got the Senators within 2-1, Simmonds scored the eventual game-winner on the power play at 7:15 of the third. Hammond stopped Schenn's deflection of a Voracek shot from the point, but Simmonds, who was to the goalie's left, settled the rebound and scored his 28th of the season. It was his seventh two-goal game of the season.

Simmonds' two goals Saturday came from within 10 feet of the net; his 13 goals from that range are the most in the League. 

Video: OTT@PHI: Simmonds restores two-goal lead with PPG

"He needs the puck around the net and we've got to make sure we put it there and that's what we did," Voracek said. "That's why we won today."

Making his eighth straight start and 13th in the past 14 games, Mason allowed two goals or fewer for the seventh straight game and 10th in the past 13. In that stretch he's 9-2-2 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. 

"You can say this is the best hockey I've seen him play," Simmonds said. "He's been great since he came to Philadelphia but I think this last 10-, 15-game stretch he's been unbelievable."

Mason's most important save came with 16:53 left in the second period with the Flyers leading 1-0. Andrew MacDonald flubbed a pass attempt at the Senators blue line and Hoffman had a breakaway. Hoffman tried finding a hole, but Mason trapped the shot between his right arm and body.

Video: OTT@PHI: Mason stops Hoffman's breakaway attempt

"That's a game-changing save right there," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "Key saves at key times. Doesn't matter how many there are, if there's one at a key time that's a big play for a goaltender to provide to his team and his teammates. That was one of them for sure."

Mason said he feels he's thriving through the extreme workload. He took an IV after the game but expects to be in goal Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

"It's a lot of fun," Mason said. "This is the situation I wanted to be in all year. I think all goaltenders want to play as much as possible. It's fun coming to the rink knowing that the net is going to be yours and I just have to keep building on it."

He and the Flyers will try to keep building Sunday against the Penguins. 

"We control our destiny," Voracek said. "Doesn't matter how Detroit or Boston is going to play. We just have to get the next couple points and we'll sneak in."

Video: Flyers' power play proves to be too much for Senators

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