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Flyers top Panthers, lock up postseason berth

Apr 9, 2014 - 4:48 AM Sunrise, FL ( - Claude Giroux scored twice and the Philadelphia Flyers punched their ticket to the postseason with a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

A year after missing the playoffs, the Flyers will be taking part in the chase for the Stanley Cup for a sixth time in the past seven seasons, and the franchise has missed the playoffs just twice since the lockout-shortened 1995 campaign.

Philadelphia still remains two points behind the Rangers, who defeated Carolina on Tuesday, for second place in the Metropolitan Division, but does have a game in hand.

"Well, it's great," said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. "I told the guys, 'You should be proud of yourselves.' I mean, they went through a lot and they battled hard all year. They're a good group of guys, good character, and they deserve a lot of credit for making the playoffs."

Sean Couturier, Tye McGinn and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal for the Flyers, who have won two straight after dropping six of seven. Steve Mason made 38 saves and tied a career best with his 33rd win of the year.

Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson lit the lamp for the Panthers, who have lost six of seven. Dan Ellis gave up all five goals on 27 shots.

The tenacious visitors took control thanks to a four-goal second period, which was started at 2:02 on Lecavalier's 20th of the year.

Adam Hall picked off the puck at the left side of the Florida net and got a shot off that Ellis stopped. The rebound, though, came out front and Lecavalier snapped it in through traffic.

A few minutes later Mason made a beautiful left pad save on a low shot from Tomas Fleischmann, and Giroux made it a 2-0 game at 6:29 as he skated down the middle and backed off the defender before firing a shot in.

Giroux notched his second of the game 2:21 later when Mark Streit skated down the right wing and sent a backhand pass to the slot where the Philly captain used a sweeping one-timer for his 27th of the season.

It was a 4-0 game at 15:03 after Braydon Coburn's shot from the right point was deflected by a defender to the right side where Couturier shot it in to snap a 17-game goalless drought.

"In the second period I just let in four [bad] goals," said Ellis. "It's unacceptable, it's frustrating as heck. You're one of the primary reasons for the loss. I take responsibility for that loss. I can't let two pucks go right through me."

Florida came out strong in the third period and got one in at 1:14 thanks to Gudbranson's shot from the right point that beat Mason, and Huberdeau scored from the left circle when his shot caromed off the stick of Streit and fooled Mason between the pads at 5:38.

Berube then called a timeout to settle things down, and it worked as the Flyers limited the chances for the rest of the game.

McGinn sealed the win with 4:54 to play as he tapped home a Lecavalier feed from the left side for his fourth of the season. For the well-traveled winger, it was his first goal since scoring twice on Oct. 15 in his first call-up from the American Hockey League.

The first period passed without a goal as the Flyers were unable to find the back of the net during 1:40 of a two-man advantage. Mason made 10 saves and Ellis stopped 12.

Game Notes

Lecavalier was the seventh Flyer to reach 20 goals on the season. He has reached 20 goals in 13 of his 15 seasons in the NHL ... The club last sported seven players with 20-or-more scores in 1989-90, a season which halted the team's run of 17 straight seasons with a playoff berth ... Mason also won 33 games during his Calder Trophy-winning 2008-09 season for Columbus ... Philadelphia continues its three-game road trip in Tampa on Thursday ... Florida hosts Toronto on Thursday ... Philly took two of three from Florida this season ... The Orange and Black have seen playoff hockey in 37 of its 46 NHL sojourns.