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Flyers looking to build on Tuesday's win

by Dan Rosen
PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers didn't sit back Tuesday in Pittsburgh the way they had been this month. Instead, they created a three-goal margin between themselves and the Penguins by skating hard, playing physical and keeping up their intensity for 60 minutes.

The complete effort earned them one of their most important wins of the season, but perhaps of greater value than the two points gained and the four-point cushion in the Atlantic Division was the lesson the Flyers learned in that 5-2 victory.

"It reminds us what we're capable of when we get going," Flyers defenseman Matt Carle told Thursday here at the Wells Fargo Center. "I think we had gotten away from that, and it was a friendly reminder that we needed. It was a huge boost for our confidence. We'll see how it plays forward (Thursday)."

The Flyers' challenge is to carry the momentum they gained Tuesday into the playoffs. They have six regular-season games remaining, starting here Thursday against the Atlanta Thrashers, who are one point away from being mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. The Flyers also play in New Jersey on Friday and at home against the Rangers on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN).

They're 5-1-4 in their last 10 games, but Tuesday's win was their first over an Eastern Conference playoff team since they beat the Rangers on Feb. 20.

"Teams that find success continue to press regardless of the score," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "There used to be a philosophy to hang on, sit back, and you can get yourself in trouble that way. We had talked about the next opportunity we get to put a team away and I thought our guys responded and did a good job (Tuesday)."

The external concern is that Thursday's game against the Thrashers could be a trap, especially with Philadelphia coming off a huge win against Pittsburgh and going into a weekend with games against division rivals New Jersey and New York.

The Flyers don't see it that way.

For one, they've already lost twice to the Thrashers this month, including once here in overtime after blowing a 3-0 lead entering the third period, and again in a shootout in Atlanta. So pride is on the line Thursday in addition to two points.

The Flyers also haven't won a home game in more than three weeks (March 8), and they realize the importance of getting back on track in the building where they likely will play Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs. And, of course, there always is the standings watch -- the Flyers potentially can move within two points of clinching the division and four points of locking up the top seed in the conference Thursday.

They need any combination of six points gained by them or lost by the Penguins to win the division and eight points gained by them or lost by the Capitals to win the regular-season conference title. Pittsburgh plays in Tampa Bay on Thursday, while Washington hosts Columbus.

"We talk about winning games and getting home ice and playing as many rounds as we can on home ice, and from there we keep it short or in segments, but not based on locking up the seed," Laviolette said. "Maybe that contradicts itself, but we don't come in and say we need this many wins to lock up first overall. We want to win (Thursday) because we want to get back on track in our building, put two points in the column and continue to press for home ice."

Laviolette said the Flyers can't concern themselves with the opponent. They didn't Tuesday and look where it got them.

"We're concerned about our game and what we'd like to do is pick up where we left off from Pittsburgh," Laviolette said. "That skating and that physical effort, the intensity we needed in order to be successful, I'd like to focus more on that than the opposition."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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