Flyers-Panthers: Philadelphia Punches Playoff Ticket with Victory Over Florida

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IApril 8, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 26: Jeff Carter #17 (L) of the Philadelphia Flyers is joined by teammate Matt Carle #25 after scoring at 14:07 of the second period against the Florida Panthers and at the Wachovia Center March 26, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the desperate Florida Panthers at the Wachovia Center last night.

Philadelphia has missed only one playoff in the past 14 campaigns, and this year marks the 33rd time in their 41 years of existence they will play in the second season.

Watching the broadcast of the game, the play-by-play guys pointed out that the Flyers are 26-2-6 in games when Jeff Carter scores a goal, and have registered at least a point in the last 26 games.

Carter's tally moved him in front of New Jersey's forward Zach Parise for second in the league in terms of goal scoring, trailing only the magnificent Alexander Ovechkin.

The Flyers received a strong effort from their net-minder in a game where he had to show the same confidence he did in March.

Martin Biron turned in a 29 save performance, including some big saves on Richard Zednik and David Booth.

It was a sloppy game for the Flyers until the seven-minute mark in the second period, when the orange and black looked to turn the switch on.

The Panthers did a good job in the first period at setting the tempo and not allowing Philly to do what they wanted to offensively.

Then the Flyers started to work.

With 4:14 to play in the second period, Joffrey Lupul scored his 24th goal of the year, thanks to a centering pass from Matt Carle after the Panthers iced the puck.

From that point forward, the Flyers looked like the squad wanting the two points at hand, knowing they only needed one to get in.

Further, for the first time in a while, the Flyers' fans can say the refs helped the cause with some non-calls.

In the first period, Bryan McCabe slashed and broke the Carter's stick right in front of the net.  No whistle on the play.

The non-calls always seem to be repaid at some point in the game though.

Carter scored his goal with 12:28 left in the final period of regulation after he caught Tomas Vokoun—who finished the game stopping 28 rubbers for the Panthers—not hugging the post and slipping the puck past the red line.

Seconds prior to Carter's 12th game-winning goal, Scott Hartnell got away with a blatant cross-check of a Florida player.

The news wasn't all good. Philadelphia lost defenseman Ryan Parent (lower-body injury) in the second period. Reports say it's a groin injury and he should be day-to-day.

Parent's loss could make a huge impact on the team. With Parent out, the blue line gets weaker.  Though Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle are still healthy, the Flyers will have to rely on players like Randy Jones and Andrew Alberts to fill the void if Parent misses any games.

The Panthers received their lone goal from Brett McLean with 15:30 to play in the middle stanza, giving Florida a 1-0 lead to work with on a night where a win was important.

Entering the game against the Flyers, Florida was tied with the New York Rangers for the final spot in the Eastern Conference; and with the Rangers beating the Montreal Canadiens last night, the chances for the Panthers to be in the playoffs became slim.

For the Panthers, the loss puts them in a far more desperate position than they entered the game in.

Florida has two games remaining on their schedule; one against the Thrashers and the other against the Capitals. They are in a position that they must win both contests for a shot to make the postseason.

There is still some hope for the Panthers.  Of course, they have to rely on the Flyers to beat the Rangers both times and/or the Canadiens falling in the final two games against the Penguins and Bruins.

The Flyers have three games left, two against the Rangers and one with the Islanders, starting with a road game against the Rangers on Thursday night.