Flyers top Red Wings 4-3 in pivotal game for playoff push

Philadelphia Flyers' Shayne Gostisbehere in action during an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Michael Raffl scored two goals and the Philadelphia Flyers won a pivotal game in their playoff push, defeating the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Tuesday night.

The Flyers have 78 points and pulled within one point of the Red Wings for the final Eastern Conference wild-card playoff berth.

The Flyers dominated the Red Wings early and outshot Detroit 23-3 in the first period. They held on after Detroit's Tomas Tatar scored with 3:46 left in the game to make it 4-3.

Raffle and Wayne Simmonds both scored in the first to give the Flyers a lead they would never relinquish. With 14 games left this season, the Flyers need every point possible to reach the playoffs.

It's crunch time: Philadelphia also plays Pittsburgh three times and is at Detroit on April 6. The Flyers are only four points behind the Penguins.

Shayne Gostisbehere, one of the top rookie defensemen in the league, scored his 16th goal in just 50 games. His goal with 1:06 left in the second period made it 4-2 and was his first of the season that didn't tie a game or give the Flyers a lead.

Andreas Athanasiou scored his sixth goal of the season and Pavel Datsyuk scored his 14th for the Red Wings. The Red Wings have lost five of seven and have a tenuous grasp on the final playoff spot. The Red Wings play their next three games on the road. They have made the playoffs 24 straight seasons.

With a game they needed to win, the Flyers played at the right arena - they Flyers are 11-0 at home against Detroit since Jan. 25, 1997.

Raffl opened the scoring with a nice goal that saw him surge past defenseman Kyle Quincy along the boards, then spin him in the circle, shaking the defender for his 11th goal of the season. Simmonds scored his 25th on a rebound off the faceoff and the arena rocked with a playoff atmosphere.

"We are fighting for our lives here," Simmonds said. "This was a pretty exciting game to get up for. It's pretty easy to get up for."

The Flyers seemingly beat Detroit to every puck in the first, smacked around the Red Wings with big hits and controlled the forecheck.

Oh, and the shots? The Flyers said the 23 against Petr Mrazek were the most since they had 25 in the first period of a Jan. 29, 1984 game, against Chicago. Mrazek finished with 42 saves.

Athanasiou and Datsyuk sandwiched goals around Raffl's second of the game in the second period to pull to 3-2.

Known as "Ghost," Gostisbehere again proved his worth as one of Philadelphia's top clutch goal scorers. His scored unassisted for the insurance goal.

"They did a good job of getting those goals back, but we had a couple guys stepping it up," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "(Raffl) is playing a really good game right now and we need to keep him on the ice."

Barely tested with three shots in the first, Steve Mason made 34 saves.

Notes: Philadelphia will host the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Thursday, Sept. 22. ... Mason improved to 5-1-1 over his past seven starts. ... Flyers F Jake Voracek remained sidelined with a foot injury and missed his eighth straight game. He did skate before the Flyers hit the ice for morning skate. ... Raffl had his second career two-goal game. His other one also came against Detroit on Oct. 25, 2014.
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