Flyers vs. Penguins: Overtime goal locks in playoff matchup

HOLY CRAP IT'S ACTUALLY HAL GILL - Gregory Shamus -- Getty Images

The Flyers, thanks to an overtime goal by Mark Streit, now know exactly what they'll be doing when the playoffs start next week -- but they may not know yet who will be in net for them.

We knew that coming into today that a Flyers win in regulation or overtime would clamp down the No. 3 playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division and a first-round matchup with the New York Rangers.

And it wasn't always pretty. And for a while there it didn't look like it was going to happen. But as Flyers-Penguins games often tend to do, some weird shit happened in the last few minutes of the game and ultimately we all went home happy (and by "we all" I mean "almost nobody who attended said hockey game, but rather all of you wonderful Flyers fans reading this recap"), as a Mark Streit overtime goal wrapped up a 4-3 win and saw the Flyers finish out the season series against Pittsburgh at 4-1-0.

So that's that, and we'll have lots to talk about regarding the Flyers' playoff opponent within the next couple of days. But before we get to the bullet points, one other note regarding an injury to a guy who the Flyers are probably hoping is healthy and good to go when the playoffs do start next week.

With 3:33 left in the second period, Pittsburgh's Jayson Megna threw Andrew MacDonald into Steve Mason, who was quickly sent to the ice and the back of his net (see .GIF here; Megna received a minor for goaltender interference on the play). Mason stayed down through the remainder of the ensuing commercial break and continued to play for the last few minutes of the second period, but was replaced by Ray Emery at the beginning of the third period. The Flyers announced Mason wouldn't return with an upper-body injury, and while it didn't look like Mason hit his head hard on the ice or anything quite like that, there certainly could have been whiplash-type effects.

Obviously, with Mason being the team's starter as the playoffs approach, his status in the next few days will be worth watching. Perhaps the Flyers decided to hold him out as a precaution, not putting a ton of stock into the outcome of this game. We'll probably find out soon. But you have to imagine Emery will be in net tomorrow as a result.

THOUGHTS:

* As they do often (especially against the Penguins), special teams came up big today for the Flyers, as they killed off all four Pittsburgh minors and made it look easy in scoring on one of their just two power plays today. In particular, a 3-on-5 where Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald came up big with some shot blocks and clears (and got some help of a few Penguins who couldn't hit open nets) was a big help.

* Jakub Voracek had an absolutely insane hockey game, with two goals -- the first of which involved some impeccable patience and moves right in front of the net -- and made a wonderful cross-ice pass to Claude Giroux down low that set up the Flyers' third goal with just 1:15 remaining in the game. CONSOL Energy Center brings out the best in most Flyers but it seems to really do so for him. What a guy.

* Right up until that aforementioned third goal this was a really, really tame game by Flyers-Pens standards. Which certainly isn't to say it was anything peaceful, but other than the aforementioned penalty by Megna and a couple of arguments between guys here and there, nothing seemed to be overwhelmingly out of place. Of course, from the 1:15 mark of the third period to the end of the game in overtime, we got a goal from Claude Giroux, a goal from Kris Letang, a brawl right along the benches as regulation time expired, and a weak goal allowed by Marc-Andre Fleury on Streit's shot in overtime. Wouldn't have it any other way.

* Speaking of Streit, we mentioned it the other day when sizing up the Ashbee candidates, and it does get lost a bit given how rough he was to start the year, but he really has been playing some outstanding hockey in the past few weeks. Jumped up into the rush a number of times today, which helped set up chances and ultimately two goals (he picked up an assist in addition to the game-winning goal).

* Hal Gill played today. That was indeed a thing that happened, for the first time in almost four months. And he was, well, Hal Gill, pretty much. Never seemed particularly fleet of foot out there and lagged behind the play a bit at times, but he didn't really let anything bad happen while he was out there, and he was even a Jakub Voracek tip-in away from picking up his first NHL point in over two years on the second goal of the day. I bet we'll see him tomorrow, too, with the game being meaningless and with Kimmo Timonen and Nicklas Grossmann apparently still nursing some injuries.

* Ray Emery, who had to come in cold at the beginning of the third period, played a really solid game for roughly 14 minutes and then the wheels fell off real fast. That shot from James Neal on the second goal is one he has to have, and the third goal (while it featured some really poor attempts at clearing in front from Coburn, in particular) also is probably one he could've kept out. All's well that ends well, I suppose, but with his performances in the last couple of games you've gotta think the Flyers are reeeeeally hoping Mason's injury is nothing serious. That said, Emery will probably play tomorrow (unless the Flyers call up Cal Heeter tonight or something).

* By the way: assuming Mason does not, in fact, play tomorrow, he'll end this regular season with a .917 save percentage, a career-best. Not bad at all, that.

Not the best game in terms of possession for the Flyers -- particularly in a second period that didn't see them put a shot on goal until there was 5:23 remaining in it, right before Voracek's second goal. Oh well.

* 4-1 against Pittsburgh this year. How fun is that?

***

We'll have lots of Rangers talk in the next few days leading up to the start of the series, which will likely be on Thursday. But until then: last one of the regular season tomorrow against the Hurricanes. Fun stuff starts after that. Go Flyers.

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