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Jeff Carter helps Flyers clinch playoff spot with 2-1 win over Florida

NHL.com @NHL

PHILADELPHIA - Jeff Carter scored the go-ahead goal at 7:32 of the third period to help the Philadelphia Flyers clinch a playoff berth and deal Florida's post-season hopes a major blow in a 2-1 win over the Panthers on Tuesday.

Carter moved ahead of New Jersey's Zach Parise for second place in the NHL scoring race with his 45th goal. His shot from the side of the crease dribbled past Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who appeared to lose his balance.

Joffrey Lupul also scored for the Flyers, whose 97th point and 43rd victory surpassed their 2007-08 totals (95 and 42).

Brett McLean scored for the Panthers, who dropped behind the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers beat Montreal and now have a two-point edge on Florida.

The Flyers, who are tied with Carolina for fourth in the conference, have three regular season games remaining - home and home with the Rangers and at the New York Islanders. Florida plays at Atlanta and at home against Washington.

McLean put the Panthers ahead with his seventh goal at 4:30 of the second period, scoring from the slot with a wrist shot after taking a centring pass from Michael Frolik.

The Flyers tied it with a flukey goal at 15:45 of the period. Matthew Carle poked a shot that bounced off Lupul's skate into the net. Lupul was credited with his 24th goal.

Philadelphia's Martin Biron stopped 29 shots and made a crucial save on a shot by David Booth in the closing seconds with the Panthers attacking with an extra skater.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren announced that left-winger Riley Cote will be sidelined for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his right ring finger at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. Cote injured the finger in a fight during a game with the New York Islanders on March 28.

Notes: Prior to faceoff, the Flyers announced the winners of their 2008-09 season awards. C Mike Richards was named most valuable; D Kimmo Timonen, outstanding defenceman; C Darroll Powe, most improved; C Danny Briere, best exemplifying strong rapport with the media; and C Jeff Carter, most mentions for star of the game. ...Florida LW Cory Stillman played in his 900th NHL game. ... Flyers D Ryan Parent sustained a lower body injury in the second period and did not return. ... Philadelphia D Andrew Alberts hit the post early in the third period. ... The teams split the season series 2-2.

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