NHL playoff picture: Flyers beat Bruins, keep things interesting ahead of trade deadline

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Jordan Hall
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Flyers continue to keep things interesting as trade deadline looms originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

In the penultimate game ahead of Monday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, the Flyers made their chase of a playoff spot at least more interesting.

The Flyers beat the Bruins, 3-2, Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center. It marked their first and only regulation win over Boston this season.

With 16 games left, the fifth-place Flyers (19-15-6) are four points back of the Bruins, who hold the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. Boston has two games in hand.

General manager Chuck Fletcher's deadline decisions didn't get any easier as the Flyers continue to kick.

"I think it's safe to say that I wouldn't have liked our chances of battling back if we would have lost," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said postgame about the postseason race. "We needed to win, especially in regulation, especially against a team that we're chasing. They've got two games in hand, but they also have a lot of hockey to play in a short amount of time. You never know how it's going to turn out. We've got to take care of our own business and focus on our game."

The Bruins (21-11-6), who went 6-1-1 against the Flyers this season, have six more matchups against the Sabres and two with the Devils. Both of those clubs are at the bottom of the East Division and have sold off pieces.

• The Flyers were able to remedy what had grown into two ugly trends against the Bruins.

Entering the game, Boston's power play had eaten up the Flyers, going 10 for 20. The Bruins had also gotten the best of the Flyers in the third period, outscoring them 14-7 in the final 20 minutes.

The Flyers were able to buck those trends. The penalty kill went for 4 for 4 and the Flyers held Boston scoreless in the final frame.

Sean Couturier scored the game-winner seven minutes into the third period. Joel Farabee, who has been trying to rediscover his scoring touch, made a sharp read from the slot to feed Couturier.

The Flyers' process has been better. The team is 4-2-2 in its last eight games, but if the Flyers are in fact starting to find their game, it could be too late.

"As far as how we've been playing, we're not super surprised," Travis Konecny said. "That's how we've been wanting to play all year and how we know we can play. Now it's just coming together and things are starting to happen for us."

• Saturday provided vintage Konecny.

The 2020 All-Star got the Flyers on the board in the first period and assisted Shayne Gostisbehere's power play marker a little fewer than six minutes later.

Konecny made the power play opportunity possible by agitating Jeremy Lauzon and subsequently taking a punch to the face to draw a roughing penalty. He ended up drawing both of Boston's penalties in the game.

After recovering from a bout with COVID-19, Konecny has put up 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) in 22 games.

"When he's moving his feet and going to those tough areas, he's such an effective player," Vigneault said. "I thought T.K. was a part of our best forwards."

• It's perfectly fitting that the Flyers actually did not start well but found a way to gain their first lead after 20 minutes since March 15. The Flyers had not held a first-intermission lead in their previous 13 games.

On Saturday, the Flyers didn't register their first shot until 8:26 minutes into the action when they were down 1-0. Patrice Bergeron scored his eighth goal against the Flyers this season to give Boston the advantage. Gostisbehere committed a turnover below the goal line directly after Brian Elliott played him the puck.

Gostisbehere made up for it with the go-ahead power play tally later in the first stanza. With seven markers and 13 points in 30 games, he has surpassed his scoring totals (six goals, 12 points) from last season in 42 games.

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• Elliott was sharp with 30 saves.

Boston netminder Jeremy Swayman faced the Flyers for the second time in his third career start. He stopped 20 shots.

On Tuesday night, the 22-year-old won his NHL debut with 40 saves against the Flyers.

• Robert Hagg played well for a second straight game since returning from a shoulder injury. Philippe Myers will have to continue to work his way back into the lineup.

• Ivan Provorov, who has never missed a game in his NHL career, blocked a shot 17 seconds into the game, which left him laying in pain. He eventually was able to get to his feet and limp to the bench.

Provorov took his very next shift and finished with a game-high 25:13 minutes.

"It's part of hockey," Provorov said. "You've got to find it in you to get up and keep playing, keep battling. It was an important game and there was no way I was leaving the ice and not coming back."

• The Flyers are right back at it Sunday when they host the Sabres in their final game before the trade deadline (2 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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