PHILADELPHIA – Wayne Simmonds scored the 200th goal of his career and Steve Mason made 23 saves to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.
Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Dale Weise also scored for the Flyers, who closed within five points of the idle New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Making the postseason remains a long shot for Philadelphia with just 13 games remaining and four teams to pass.
Philadelphia snapped a three-game losing streak while handing the defending Stanley Cup champions their fourth shutout of the season.
The road-weary Penguins completed an eight-day, five-game road trip that took them through four time zones as they traveled 4,763 miles. The journey got longer because of Tuesday’s snowstorm in the Northeast, which caused the Penguins to fly home from Calgary late Monday night rather than directly to Philadelphia. Pittsburgh arrived in Philadelphia late Wednesday morning.
With 95 points, Pittsburgh remained two behind idle Washington for first place in the Metropolitan Division and the best record in the NHL.
Mason posted his third shutout of the season and the 33rd of his career. He saved some of his best work for late in the game, making three strong stops within four minutes of each other with under 10 minutes remaining.
First, he denied Oskar Sundqvist’s short-handed chance from right in front with 9:55 remaining. Then, Mason made a good pad save on Nick Bonino with 6:48 left before fully extending his left pad to deny Ian Cole’s slap shot.
Simmonds scored his 29th of the season and 200th of his career while tying teammate Brayden Schenn for the NHL lead with his 15th on the power play with 13:40 left in the second period to put Philadelphia up 2-0. Shayne Gostisbehere took the initial shot and Simmonds put the rebound over a sprawling Matt Murray.
Couturier put Philadelphia on the board a minute into the second when he also went high over Murray from close range after the puck deflected to him right in front of the net.
Murray had to go to the bench with 11:34 left in the period when he was inadvertently hit in the head by Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny, but was able to stay in the game.
Murray finished with 24 saves.
Giroux scored on a wrist shot from the slot that beat Murray with 4:16 left, and Weise finished the scoring with 47.3 seconds remaining.
The game featured the return of defenseman Mark Streit, the former Flyers assistant captain who was traded by Philadelphia on March 1.
Notes: Flyers D Brandon Manning (upper body) missed his second straight game and forward Jordan Weal (lower body) also was out of the lineup. . Penguins forward Matt Cullen returned to the lineup after missing three straight games due to a lower-body injury. . Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz received a loud ovation when he was introduced while attending his first Flyers game. . The Penguins lead the season series 2-1. The teams will wrap it up March 26 in Pittsburgh. . Sidney Crosby remained one assist shy of tying Jaromir Jagr for second place on the Penguins’ all-time list. Crosby has 639 assists. Mario Lemieux owns the club record with 1,033.
Up next: Penguins: Return home to host the New Jersey Devils Friday night.
Flyers: Play the second game of a back-to-back at New Jersey Thursday night.