The Ottawa Senators picked up a critical two points in Philadelphia Saturday afternoon, winning 4-3 in a shootout after squandering a three-goal lead.
The seventh-place Senators are two points up on the Washington Capitals, who beat the Montreal Canadiens Saturday and four points up on Buffalo, which lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ottawa plays Sunday as well, at which point all three clubs will have played 79 games.
Currently, the Senators hold the standings tiebreaker on the Sabres but not the Capitals.
Ottawa's opponents on Sunday are the New York Islanders.
The Senators were up 3-0 by the 14:27 mark of the first in Philadelphia.
"Our team does a good job of being resilient and showing a little character and coming back," Senators coach Paul MacLean said.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson set up Jason Spezza for a goal six minutes in and then scored himself five minutes later. Chris Neil added a goal, the second point in 12 games as a Senator for Rob Klinkhammer.
The Flyers had the game tied by late in the second. Wayne Simmonds scored on a Brayden Schenn shot that went off his face, with Sean Couturier and Braydon Coburn also finding the mark.
Simmonds was bloodied but came back to the game after getting repairs, while the Couturier goal needed several minutes of video review before it was called.
"I saw it coming, but there's not much I could really do," Simmonds said. "Just trying to take the shot and it got deflected off."
Both clubs had great chances to win the game late. Spezza ran out of room on the doorstep late in the third period, with Bobrovsky making a pad save, while in overtime Briere hit the post for the Flyers and a Simmonds re-direction of a shot nearly beat Anderson.
The Senators blew a 3-0 lead before Michalek and Spezza bailed them out in the shootout. Matt Read scored in the shootout for the Flyers.
Craig Anderson finished with 36 saves. Anderson stopped all 15 shots in the first, including a terrific save on Claude Giroux's short-handed breakaway, only to allow three goals on 14 shots in the second.
Alfredsson helped open the scoring when he reversed the puck behind the net and dumped it to Spezza, who was waiting by the post and scored his 32nd.
"We do some crazy stuff sometimes to put ourselves in tough positions," Alfredsson said. "But more often than not we've been able to come up with some kind of solution and big play at the right time. We never stop believing. It's a great group."
|Eastern Playoff Race||PTS||GP||**ROW|
|*Division Leader **ROW = Regulation + OT Wins x-clinched playoff berth|
Intercepting the puck
Alfredsson, who scored two goals in each of the last two games, scored his 27th from the high slot. The Flyers tried to clear the puck, but Erik Karlsson intercepted the puck, and made the short side pass to Alfredsson who keep his scoring streak going.
Neil's 13th goal of the season was a simple shot from the circle that bounced through Sergei Bobrovksy's legs for a 3-0 lead. There was no doubt Bobrovsky should have stopped that puck and the Flyers fans erupted in boos.
Ilya Bryzgalov, the hottest goalie in the NHL with a 10-2-1 record in March, sat out his second straight game because of a chip fracture in his right foot.
Ottawa came inches from a 4-0 lead when a puck slipped behind Bobrovsky and trickled toward the goal line until a fast-moving Flyer poked it free.
This was the ninth time this season the Flyers trailed by two or more goals and came back to earn at least one point.
"I felt they were trying to hold on, they were looking to take us to overtime," Flyers forward Danny Briere said.
Schenn's slapper nailed Simmonds near his right eye and the puck shot into the net for a goal. Simmonds crumbled to the ice and needed assistance straight to the locker room. Simmonds, who does not wear a visor, later returned. Interviewed by Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman at intermission, a helmetless Simmonds had caked blood and some fresh red streaks above his right eye and on his nose.
Simmonds was busted open by an errant puck in warmups last month, needed 25 stitches in his lips, then scored two goals.
The Flyers caught a break when Couturier's second effort to put the puck past Anderson was reviewed because Filip Kuba knocked the net off its base.
Coburn played close to the net and pounded in his fourth goal of the season late in the period to even the score.
Philadelphia gets little rest, playing Pittsburgh in a game that will be needed if they've any hope of moving up to fourth in the East.