Smelling first place? Flyers win 8th straight as Metropolitan Division push gets crazier


Updated: 9:48 p.m.


Briefly, the Flyers were no longer looking up.

With a 4-1 win Thursday night over the Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers temporarily climbed atop the Metropolitan Division.

For 18 minutes exactly.

As the Flyers (40-20-7) closed out their season-best eighth straight victory, the Capitals and Rangers were duking it out at Madison Square Garden.

New York beat Washington, 6-5, in overtime. With that result, though, the Flyers moved back into second place because of tiebreakers. Both the Flyers and Capitals have 87 points and 30 regulation wins, but Washington has more regulation/overtime victories.

The Rangers gained a 5-4 lead late in the third period but could not hold it.

As the third period wore on in Philadelphia, Flyers fans could taste the division lead.

They’ll have to wait for now.

Meanwhile, the Flyers’ run continues to grow in impressiveness. Since Jan. 8, the Flyers are 18-5-1 with an NHL-most 91 goals. Over that stretch, no team has more points than the Flyers’ 37. The Bruins also have 37.

The Hurricanes (35-25-5) played for the first time in five days and have lost four straight.

• The Flyers completed a drastic turnaround from last season.

Thanks to the win over the Hurricanes, the Flyers will finish the 2019-20 regular season with a 10-0-2 record against divisional foes Carolina, Washington and Columbus.

Last season, the Flyers went 0-10-2 against those three teams, all of which made the playoffs.

The Flyers are 16-4-4 with a plus-25 goal differential (90-65) against the Metropolitan Division.

• The Flyers ambushed Carolina in the third period after the Hurricanes crept to within one goal.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Sean Couturier scored 26 seconds apart to seize complete control.

• If the Flyers clinch a playoff berth and home ice in the opening round, Carter Hart’s dominance at home will be a huge reason why.

After making 28 saves Thursday, the 21-year-old improved to 19-2-2 at home. He has allowed two or fewer goals in 19 of those 23 outings.

• How about this for some depth?

Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick connected during the second period to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

Both role forwards have eight goals and 20 points on the season.

• A look at how long the Flyers will be without James van Riemsdyk (broken finger) and how they’ll move forward (see story).

• With van Riemsdyk’s injury, the acquisitions of Derek Grant and Nate Thompson look that much more important.

Grant has given the Flyers a huge lift down the middle. Everyone expected his defensive strengths to fit head coach Alain Vigneault’s system, but his offensive abilities have profiled just as well.

The 29-year-old has five points in his last three games. He’s making only $700,000 in a contract year and can play center or winger — the Flyers will certainly consider re-signing him.

• Coming into the season, it appeared the Flyers’ defensemen could make or break the team’s season.

The play from the blueliners has gotten better and better. The Flyers are consistently pushing north and that’s a credit to their defensemen.

The Flyers are also receiving quality offensive production from the position as Ivan Provorov is four goals away from matching his career of 17.

• The Flyers are off from practice Friday before hosting the Sabres Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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