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Published March 27, 2017
The Philadelphia Flyers are trying to balance desperation and cool heads as they make a last-gasp, late-season run at a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Jakub Voracek and Dale Weise sparked Philadelphia's four-goal third period and the Flyers finished a four-game road trip with a 6-2 win against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night.
"Obviously we know where we are in the standings," Voracek said. "It's not going to be easy to make the playoffs. We all know that. We have to look for the results on the other teams. We're just trying to play a little relaxed, a little loose."
Jordan Weal scored his fifth goal in the first period and Valtteri Filppula his ninth in the second, then the Flyers broke it open in the third. Weise got his fifth of the season and Voracek his 19th before Radko Gudas and Shayne Gostisbehere capped the scoring.
Steve Mason stopped 25 shots for the Flyers, who won for the fourth time in seven games.
Philadelphia is six points behind Boston for the second Eastern Conference wild card, with three teams ahead of them and seven games left.
"You look at it one game at a time," Gostisbehere said. "We win, and it takes care of everything else. We just control what we can control right now and that's winning games."
Matt Murray made 27 saves for the Penguins, who missed out on an opportunity to move a point behind the Washington Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh, tied with Columbus for second place in the division, had its five-game point streak end and lost back-to-back home games for the first time this season. The Penguins have lost their last three games, but two of those losses came in shootouts.
Matt Cullen scored his 12th of the season and Patric Hornqvist his 19th on a partial breakaway in the third, but it wasn't enough to complete the comeback for the Penguins, who have a much-needed two-day break coming up.
"We've solidified a playoff spot, but we'd like to be in the best possible position," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "Given the players we have available to us, we're trying to put the best lineup together that we think is going to win on a given night."
Conor Sheary, fourth on the team with 21 goals, left in the first period and didn't return. Sheary is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
That makes him the latest injured Penguin, including former NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin, who missed his sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. A host of other injured Penguins, including Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta, Ron Hainsey and Jake Guentzel all had an on-ice workout before the team's morning skate on Sunday. Maatta (hand) missed his 19th consecutive game, while Letang (upper body) and Daley (knee) both missed their 16th straight.
Weise gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead just 1:11 into the third period. Murray made the initial stop on a one-time feed from Travis Konecny, but Weise was at the top of the crease to put the puck across the line. Weise has three goals in his last six games.
Voracek then pushed a rebound from Claude Giroux's shot past Murray at 8:41. Hornqvist scored for Pittsburgh, cutting the deficit to 4-2, but Gudas and Gostisbehere ended it for the Flyers.
"I think we just went out and played the same way that we did in the second period," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "We didn't force anything, but guys continued to make plays and really that's what you have to do in order to close out a game."
NOTES: Flyers C Nick Cousins missed his sixth straight game. ... D Chad Ruhwedel and F Josh Archibald were both scratches for Pittsburgh. ... The Penguins wore their Stadium Series jerseys, the same ones they had on against the Flyers during the February outdoor game at Heinz Field. ... Sunday's crowd marked the 400th consecutive regular season sellout for Pittsburgh.
Flyers: Open a three-game homestand Tuesday against Ottawa.
Penguins: Finish a three-game homestand Wednesday against Chicago.