For most of the 2010-11 season, the Philadelphia Flyers have been the best match the Eastern Conference could muster to the Vancouver Canucks. It only makes sense, then, that Philly became the second team in the NHL (behind Vancouver) to clinch a playoff berth tonight.
It didn’t come easily, though, as they rode a strong performance by Sergei Bobrovsky to a 3-2 shootout win against the Stars in Dallas.
Much like their cousins in the West, the Flyers keep fighting hard against teams who have much more on the line than they do. The Stars will be glad that they at least earned a point considering the fact that they were down 2-0 in the second period.
Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored the Flyers’ regulation goals, with both scores assisted by Andrei Meszaros and Matt Carle. The Stars’ defensemen were responsible for their tying goals, as Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas found the twine.
Claude Giroux and Ville Leino scored in the shootout for Philly, with Leino getting the winner. Mike Ribeiro scored the Stars’ only shootout goal.
Both Bobrovsky and Kari Lehtonen had matching 28 for 30 save performances, but Bobrovsky earned his 26th win of the season. While the Russian rookie slowed down a bit after a hot start, he’s still been a boon for the Flyers. (The best part? He has two more entry-level years left after this season.)
The Flyers are the top team in the East with 96 points in 71 games played. They hold a six point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins (same games played) for the Atlantic Division and also lead the second place Washington Capitals by two points with two more games in hand. Wednesday could be a big game, as the Flyers host the Capitals.
Meanwhile, the Stars find themselves in sixth place at the moment, with 85 points in 72 games. Their schedule will be tough, but they can make the playoffs if they play well in their last 10 games.