JUST 3 POINTS FROM PLAYOFFS, FLYERS CATCH LIGHTNING TONIGHT

The Flyers are just three points behind Pittsburgh for the last wild card playoff spot, and they are surging as they prepare to play the Lightning tonight in Tampa.

Philly (31-23-11) completed a 5-1 home stand by scoring three times in the third period to beat Tampa Bay 4-2 on Monday.

“We’re playing with confidence and we’re sure of ourselves right now,” forward Wayne Simmonds told the Flyers’ official website. “It’s a good way to be feeling going down the stretch here.”

Simmonds has 10 points during a 7-2-1 stretch for Philly, which is ninth in the Eastern Conference and very much within striking distance of both wild-card spots. The Flyers now face both Florida teams – both among the East’s top six – on back-to-back nights as they hit the road for the first time since Feb. 23.

“This is going to be a great test for us going down (to Florida) for two really tough games,” said Steve Mason, who has allowed two goals in two games after being benched in five straight. “That starts with a real tough game against the Lightning.”

Mason made 16 saves Monday and had 29 in the teams’ other meeting but let defenseman Jason Garrison score in overtime of a 3-2 loss at Tampa Bay (39-23-5) on Oct. 8.

The Flyers’ Shayne Gostisbehere scored twice Monday. He recorded one point in the previous six that followed a 15-game point streak. His 14 goals – in 47 games – are a team record for a rookie defenseman.

”He’s learning fast,” said captain Claude Giroux, who had two assists Monday. ”He listens. When a young player comes in and wants to get better and listens to the people around him, good things are going to happen.”

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