A little less than six months ago, Claude Giroux stood in the locker room with microphones, cameras and reporters in his face and proclaimed the Flyers would make the playoffs. The orange and black were 1-7-0, had scored 11 goals through eight games. Few people gave the Flyers any shot of even sniffing .500, let alone postseason play.
Tuesday night in the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., the Flyers clinched a berth into the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Flyers were outplayed by the second-worst team in the NHL for most of the game, but they were able to score five goals to dispatch the Florida Panthers by a score of 5-2.
Claude Giroux was center stage, scoring two goals along with two more from Vincent Lecavalier. Sean Couturier scored as well and Steve Mason finished the night with 38 saves. Mason earned his 33rd victory of the season, which tied his career best.
After a lackluster first period, Lecavalier opened the scoring just over two minutes into the second. The Panthers turned the puck over at the side of their net and Adam Hall pounced on the scrambling defense. A mad scramble ensued in front of the net and Lecavalier found the puck and fired it past Dan Ellis to put the Flyers up 1-0.
Giroux scored the next two goals, both of which came less than three minutes apart.
His first came from a great stretch pass from Nicklas Grossmann. After receiving the puck, Giroux darted into the Panther zone and scored from the right face off circle. Soon after, Mark Streit gained the zone from the right-wing boards. Giroux tapped his stick two times and Streit backhanded a pass that Giroux swept behind Ellis for his second of the night.
The final goal of the period came from Sean Couturier.
Going into the third period, it looked as if the Flyers were twenty minutes away from the playoffs, but the Panthers had other plans. They scored two goals early in the third period to slice the Flyers lead to two goals.
With less than five minutes left, the fourth line gave the Flyers some breathing room. Tye McGinn tapped in a pass from Lecavalier to seal the Flyers victory and their berth in the playoffs.