By Mary Cunningham
There was joy yesterday at the Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers, who have been struggling to finally make the playoffs, wrapped up a spot easily by blitzing the New York Rangers 5-0.
The dreaded Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Flyers (42-26-14) finished third in the Metropolitan Division and will play the Pens in the Eastern Conference First Round.
The Orange and Black reached the playoffs after missing last season despite a 10-game losing streak (0-5-5) from Nov. 11-Dec. 2. They’re the fourth team in NHL history to reach the postseason after a losing streak of at least 10 games.
“Some games during that 10-game losing streak we didn’t play as bad as it sounds,” Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov said. “We stuck with it, we played for each other. Definitely feels great to be in the playoffs.”
Claude Giroux had his first regular-season NHL hat trick, Michael Raffl had a goal and an assist, and Provorov scored. Brian Elliott made 17 saves for his first shutout of the season. It was his second game since Feb. 10; he had core muscle surgery Feb. 13.
Giroux’s three-goal game gave him 102 points (34 goals, 68 assists). He’s the sixth Flyers player with that many, and first since Eric Lindros had 115 in 1995-96.
Giroux has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) during a 10-game point streak.
Fans chanted “MVP, MVP,” for Giroux.
“It was hard to miss,” he said. “They were great tonight, they gave us a boost. I think overall, we played a solid game. We played the way we wanted to. It’s great to be in the playoffs.”
Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves for New York (34-39-9).
The Flyers scored three times in the second period, including goals by Raffl and Giroux a Flyers-record six seconds apart.
Giroux gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal at 12:24 of the second period.
Raffl made it 3-0 when he scored off the rebound of Radko Gudas’ point shot at 17:53. On the face-off, Raffl intercepted a Ryan Sproul pass and centered it for Giroux, who scored at 17:59 to make it 4-0.
“He was dialed in,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “You could tell and see that all the way through. We’ve seen that over the entire stretch run here. … [Giroux] is our captain and leader for us. He went out and did the job. He led the way for and along with everyone else to do their job.”
Provorov put the Flyers ahead 1-0 at 6:34 of the first period whenSean Couturier‘s shot deflected off his arm during a delayed penalty against the Rangers. Video review upheld the call on the ice that the puck entered the net in a legal fashion.