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Simmonds' hat trick helps Flyers top Hurricanes

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Philadelphia Flyers still want to finish strong even though they won't be in the postseason.

Wayne Simmonds gave an example of that Saturday night.

Simmonds produced his first hat trick and the Flyers, playing with a dose of intensity, zipped past the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 at PNC Arena.

"We've got three more games, so we've got to keep going," Simmonds said. "We didn't even speak about being eliminated from the playoffs. We have a great young core in here and want to play strong down the stretch."

Simmonds pushed his goal total to 15, notching his third of the game just 48 seconds into the third period. He later assisted on teammate Matt Read's goal.

Jakub Voracek also scored for the Flyers, who have won three of their last four games.

It was a matchup of two of the first four teams eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff pursuit.

The Flyers were in their first game since they were eliminated from playoff contention Friday when the New York Rangers beat Buffalo. Philadelphia will sit out the postseason for the first time since 2006-07.

The Hurricanes were officially eliminated during their previous game Thursday night.

"These games are important for pride moving forward," Flyers goalie Steve Mason said. "Nights like this should happen more often."

Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk and Eric Staal scored for the Hurricanes, who have won only two of their last 19 games.

Mason stopped 26 shots. It was his fifth game and second victory since a trade from Columbus.

The hat trick for Simmonds came in his 364th game. It was his second multi-goal game of the season, both on the road.

Simmonds said he kept two of the hats that came onto the ice. With a considerable fan turnout of Flyers fans, there were about two dozen hats tossed.

"It feels good," Simmonds said. "I feel like Scott Hartnell today."

The Flyers, who produced a three-game season sweep of Carolina, are 3-5 in a two-week period.

Coach Peter Laviolette of the Flyers said he'll be watching how his team reacts across the final week of the season.

"It's important to finish the season up," he said.

Carolina goalie Justin Peters made his career-high seventh consecutive start, registering 33 saves.

The Flyers had good scoring chances throughout the game.

"A few of them were bad breaks and missing the net (at our end)," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "Give Philly credit for quick transition. We were just a step behind on a lot of plays."

The Flyers came out flying, accounting for the game's first eight shots. They finally converted on Voracek's breakaway seven minutes into the game.

"A lot of pucks went in, which is good," Voracek said.

That marked his team-leading 20th goal and his third tally in a four-game stretch.

The Hurricanes pulled even later in the period when the Flyers flubbed clearing the puck and Skinner converted off the turnover.

Skinner was back in the lineup after missing Thursday night's game at Winnipeg for precautionary reasons because of a hit to the head at Ottawa.

The Flyers were on top again on Simmonds' goal less than two minutes into the second period.

Again, the inability to clear the puck from the zone cost the Flyers, this time with Faulk's blast from inside the blue line making it through.

The Flyers recorded 13 shots in about the first 10 minutes, a sterling pace considering they finished with 22 and 23 shots in their two previous games. They ended up with 18 first-period shots.

Read assisted on two Philadelphia goals. He nearly scored his second goal of the game in the last second, but it was negated on video review because of a kicking motion.

When Carolina tough guy Kevin Westgarth assisted on the team's second goal, it marked his first point of the season. He was playing in his 29th game in his first season with the Hurricanes.

NOTES: With three games remaining, the Flyers could still impact the postseason field with games against two playoff hopefuls, the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators. Their next game is at home Tuesday against Boston, which has clinched a postseason berth. ... Right winger Adam Hall, who had a brief stint with the Hurricanes this season, was in the lineup for Philadelphia. ... Faulk, a second-year defenseman with the Hurricanes, appeared in his 100th game. ... Philadelphia, which was shut out Thursday by New Jersey, was 3-0 in ensuing games after shutouts this season. ... The Hurricanes are back in action Sunday at Tampa Bay to complete their final set of games on back-to-back days.
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