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Penguins lose eighth straight game against Flyers

by Dan Rosen /

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers, already mathematically eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention, could only play spoilers Sunday. They did, and it left their cross-state rivals reeling and potentially locked in a much closer race than they thought they'd be in.

Goalie Steve Mason tied his season high with 46 saves, and the Flyers offense was powered by goals from forwards Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Ryan White and defenseman Michael Del Zotto in a 4-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Wells Fargo Center.

"They have something to play for, and we were happy to take it away from them," Mason said. "Our fate is sealed, but that doesn't mean we can't ruin other people's."

Voracek, Schenn, and Del Zotto scored power-play goals; White scored at even strength in the third period.

The Flyers (32-29-18) have won eight in a row against the Penguins dating to last season. They swept the season series against the Penguins for the first time since 1983-84.

Philadelphia also defeated Pittsburgh 4-1 on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center.

"From being here one year, you realize that we don't like the Penguins," White said. "It's good to beat them twice in the same week. That's the only thing we can play for right now, is try to put a damper on other teams' things. They had a few guys last week saying that they're going to playoffs, chirping after the game. So it was a good win for us."

The Penguins (42-26-11), losers of three straight and playing without defensemen Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff, might have spoken too soon.

They're in a race that they couldn't have fathomed being in on March 14, when they lost to the Boston Bruins 2-0. That started what has turned into a 3-8-1 stretch for the Penguins, who have entered dangerous territory when it comes to making the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins (95 points) are tied with the Bruins and Detroit Red Wings in the race for a wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, and the Ottawa Senators pulled within two points with their shootout loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.

The Penguins play at the Senators on Tuesday.

"We're in the driver's seat here," Penguins center Brandon Sutter said. "[Sunday], with the way we played, we just have to keep going with that. If we get that many shots every night we're going to be just fine. No reason to pout. We've just gotta keep going. Big game coming up."

The Penguins had 47 shots against the Flyers, including 22 in the first period. Sutter had their only goal on the power play at 16:21 of the first.

Forwards Nick Spaling and Evgeni Malkin, who played after missing the past two games with an undisclosed injury, had shots that rang off the post when the Penguins were trailing 2-1.

"When you've had a couple games when you've slipped up and [then] didn't find a way to get it done today it's frustrating," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said, "but if we get that many shots a game, that many chances, it's just a matter of being consistent and doing it every night."

Penguins coach Mike Johnston also took the measured approach, saying there were things he liked about how the Penguins played Sunday, just as there were things he liked about their game Saturday, when they lost 5-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The problem, as Johnston noted, is it's hard to be content with taking positives out of losses at this time of the season when you haven't clinched a playoff berth yet.

"It's very difficult to be happy with the process for sure, because it's a results business, but still you have to build on it," Johnston said. "We have to take what we did well [Saturday], take what we did well [Sunday], and still we need more. We have to find more. We have to dig down and search for more. But take a lot of the good things we've done in the last two days and put them in the Ottawa game."

Voracek scored the game-tying power-play goal at 19:18 of the first period. Schenn gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead at 12:20 of the second. White scored off a feed from Sean Couturier at 15:05 of the third period to make it 3-1. Del Zotto capped the scoring at 19:50 of the third.

Couturier drew the penalties that led to the Flyers' first two goals. He was cross-checked in the back by Daniel Winnik at 18:31 of the first period and hooked by Blake Comeau at 12:02 of the second.

Philadelphia's power play was 3-for-4.

"It's sure motivation seeing them flipping down the standings here and beating them again to make their life harder to make the playoffs," Couturier said. "Maybe they won't make it, so we'll see. It was for sure a little motivation today for us to beat them and make it harder for them."

Johnston felt a turning point was Winnik's penalty on Couturier. To that point the Flyers were being outshot 22-3, but Mark Streit found Voracek in the right circle and he hammered a one-timer past Penguins goalie Thomas Greiss (16 saves) with 42 seconds to play in the first period.

"It had a huge impact because they get a little bit of momentum," Johnston said of Winnik's penalty. "They didn't have much going on in the first period except for Mason. I thought Mason was obviously really solid in the first. Then they got some momentum and some energy off their power play with the goal. That gave them some life, but then the period ended and we still had a clean slate."

Except the Flyers were in the game the game again, and they started to tighten up.

Schenn gave Philadelphia the lead when his redirection of Voracek's pass chipped up and over the defense before dropping into the crease and sliding into the net.

"You definitely start to press when you know in previous games you haven't scored as much," Crosby said. "But if you look at this game for what it was, I mean we did more than enough to win the hockey game and didn't capitalize on those chances."

Mason wouldn't let them.

"Unbelievable game by him," Schenn said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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