PHILADELPHIA — Oskar Lindblom, Michael Raffl and Scott Laughton scored in the second period to lead the hard-charging Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.
The Flyers were 16-23-6 on Jan. 12 and seemingly had lost hope for a playoff appearance, playing out the string under new general manager Chuck Fletcher and interim coach Scott Gordon.
Not so fast.
Led by rookie goalie Carter Hart, the Flyers reeled off an eight-game winning streak over late January-February to climb out of the NHL cellar and have now won four of five games to inch toward the eighth seed.
Columbus, which sits in eighth in the East, lost 2-0 to the New York Islanders on Monday and Montreal was idle. Both teams have 79 points, but Columbus holds the tiebreaker.
The Flyers have 76 points with 13 games remaining and what once was a lost season instead has the team thinking playoffs.
Playing the NHL-worst Senators certainly helped.
Chris Tierney beat Brian Elliott, subbing for the injured Hart, for his eighth goal of the season in the first period in front of a listless crowd.
But the Flyers perked up in the second and ripped off three goals against Craig Anderson in a scoring frenzy that had Gritty dancing. The Flyers tied it on a bit of a pinball play — Shayne Gostisbehere fired a slapper off Sean Couturier’s knee and the puck pinged off Lindblom’s skate for the quirky goal.
Raffl tipped in his sixth goal of the season for a 2-1 lead in his 400th career NHL game, and Laughton followed with his 11th late in the period.
The Flyers are 6-1-1 over their last eight and are as close to a wild-card spot as they’ve been since November, before they fired general manager Ron Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol.
Flyers fans finally started a “Let’s go Flyers!” chant in the waning minutes and they cheered when the Blue Jackets’ score flashed on the big screen.
Filip Chlapik scored his first goal of the season with 3 minutes left but the Flyers held on and meaningful games in April suddenly seem on the horizon.
NOTES: Laughton has points in five straight games. … The Senators lost their fourth straight game. … Both teams have new coaches since their last meeting in November (Hakstol-Gordon for the Flyers; Guy Boucher-Marc Crawford for the Senators). … Flyers F Jakub Voracek served the first of a two-game suspension for interference against New York Islanders defenceman Johnny Boychuk.
Senators: host St. Louis on Thursday.
Flyers: Host the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals on Thursday.
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Dan Gelston, The Associated Press