(Philadelphia, PA) – Martin Biron stopped 20 shots in his second straight shutout in leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon at the Wachovia Center. Scottie Upshall scored for the second straight game, while Mike Knuble set up the goal and added an empty-netter late to seal the victory.
With the win, the Flyers clinched the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and will face the Washington Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flyers won the season series against the Capitals, 2-1-1.
Philadelphia finished the regular season with seven wins in its last nine games (7-1-1), including two straight shutouts by Biron.
“We go two straight games without giving up a goal. Those are the things you want to see in your hockey team heading into the playoffs,” said John Stevens.
“You want to get rolling and you want to get rolling at the right time of the season,” added Biron. “We are going back to zeros across the board against a team that was hot at the end of the season, so we are welcoming the challenge. We have to welcome the challenge the same way we did the last two games.”
Washington, the Southeast Division champion, finished the regular season with 11 wins in its last 12 games and will host the first two games of the series despite finishing with one fewer point (94) than the Flyers (95).
The Atlantic Division champion Penguins played without star Sidney Crosby, who has been nursing an ankle injury. Flyers center Danny Briere missed his second straight game with a lower body injury, and the Flyers can only hope he will be ready to play Game One of their playoff opener later this week. Flyers captain Jason Smith (upper body injury) also sat out.
Biron was steady again after blanking the New Jersey Devils on Friday night, and posted consecutive shutouts for the second time this season.
Biron had a fantastic finish to the regular season, which should act as a confidence booster for a goalie who has never played in the playoffs. He never made it off the bench as a backup in Buffalo, and the Flyers missed the postseason last year.
Marc-Andre Fleury was having a solid game, turning away a Mike Richards short-handed breakaway attempt in the second and he caught a break when Jeff Carter's shot knocked off the post only minutes earlier.
Fleury, though, appeared surprised by Carter's slapper off a faceoff, and the puck bounced back to Knuble in the circle. Knuble backhanded the puck through two defenders and Upshall was there to knock it in for a 1-0 lead late in the second.
“We’re playing exceptionally right now,” said Upshall. “We probably played our best two games defensively that we’ve played all year. Marty Biron is playing great for us, which is a big key to doing well this time of year.
“The Washington Capitals are our main objective and they’re playing unbelievable hockey as well right now. We’re looking forward to a good series against them.”
The Flyers ended the season 29-7-7 when scoring the first goal of the game; 30-1-3 when leading after two periods; 19-8-3 when outshooting their opponent; 17-12-3 against the Atlantic Division; and 21-14-6 at home. … Philadelphia has a day off Monday and will resume practice at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.
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1 - 0 PHI
2 - 0 PHI
Interference - Goalkeeper