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Flyers, Blackhawks seek positive end to their seasons

Apr 9, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Owen Tippett (74) heads back to the bench after scoring a goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers will look to finish the regular season with two straight wins when they battle the host Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

The Flyers (30-38-13, 73 points) defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday thanks in large part to two goals from Owen Tippett.

Tippett’s second goal with 16 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Flyers to victory.

James van Riemsdyk notched his 300th career goal and Ivan Provorov added two assists for the Flyers, who snapped a 0-6-1 skid.

It was a much-needed win in what has been a frustrating season filled with a litany of injuries and maddening losses.

“Before the year, (senior adviser) Dean Lombardi pulled me aside and was letting me know where I stood with some of those things, with career goals and milestones like that,” van Riemsdyk said. “I knew it was within reach this year. Excited to get it here in Philly. A winning effort is always nice, too.”

Flyers head coach John Tortorella was an observer in the win as assistant coach Rocky Thompson ran the bench.

Thompson was impressed with Tippett, who is second on the team with 26 goals. Tippett had scored 18 goals in his first 115 career games.

“I saw him in junior, I coached in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) at that time, and he was a natural goal-scorer,” Thompson said. “But I think his game is evolving not just as a shooter, which we’re seeing and that’s coming, maturing, but I think he makes good plays, too.”

The Blackhawks also hope to end the season with two consecutive wins when they host the Flyers.

Chicago (26-49-6, 58 points), which is mired in last place in the Central Division, stunned the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks had dropped 11 of their last 12 and three straight, but Buddy Robinson had one goal and one assist, Anders Bjork added two assists and goaltender Petr Mrazek was terrific with a 38-save performance.

It was surely an unexpected effort.

“The guys were just determined,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. “I think we’ve played really good hockey as of late. We just couldn’t get over that hump in the third period. (Tuesday), they were determined to get over the hump. A lot of credit, a lot of hard work out there.”

The hard work might have knocked Pittsburgh out of the playoff race. The Penguins had qualified for the playoffs in each of the last 16 seasons.

“We knew they were fighting for a spot,” said Andreas Athanasiou, who scored one goal against Pittsburgh. “It gives a lot of guys in this room an opportunity to come in and be a little bit of a heartbreaker. That worked out (Tuesday) for us.”

Mrazek made two huge saves against Sidney Crosby to help preserve the victory.

“Sometimes he’s had my number in the past,” Mrazek said of Crosby. “(Tuesday), it was on my side. So I’m happy for that.”

Chicago fell to the Vancouver Canucks, Seattle Kraken and Minnesota Wild before the stunning three-goal victory at Pittsburgh.

–Field Level Media