"Nobody wanted to lose the game on a stupid play," Danny Briere explained. "We both needed the points. And it's not like we're fighting each other to get into the playoffs."
With just 17 ticks remaining, and 18,690 ear-splitting fans at their feet, Scott Hartnell went racing in to lay a check on Myers behind the Buffalo net. And then he caught himself.
"We were just sitting there for a while," Hartnell said. "I got back to the bench and guys were like, 'What are you doing?!' "
It wasn't until Thomas Vanek's breakaway attempt hit the twine just 1:16 into overtime, to give Buffalo a 4-3 win, that the Flyers realized exactly what they were doing - and exactly what they have been doing over the last 20 games.
The Flyers have now gone five games without a win for the first time all season, and they waited until game No. 81 to do it. And last night was just the sixth time all season (37-1-5) the Flyers lost a game when leading after two periods.
The lost point allowed idle Washington to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the second consecutive season, even after the Flyers held it from Jan. 4 to April 2.
"We've [squandered] a lot of points away lately," said Briere, who set a new career-high for goals in a season with 33. "That's a scary thought. But the good news is that we still control our own destiny. We have a chance to clinch in front of our own fans [tonight]."
The good news is that there is no denouement to this marathon season yet. The Flyers will clinch their first Atlantic Division title since 2004 with a win against the Islanders tonight at the Wells Fargo Center, regardless of what Pittsburgh does in its final game on Sunday, as the Flyers own the first tiebreaker between the teams.
The Flyers are 5-0-0 against the Islanders this season, who nearly knocked off the Penguins with a disallowed goal at the buzzer last night.
It is no longer possible for the Flyers to face Carolina or the New York Rangers in the first round. It is still possible, however, for the Flyers to fall to No. 3 or No. 4, which leaves Tampa Bay, Montreal and those Sabres as possible opponents.
"There's positives," coach Peter Laviolette said. "And there's things we can do better. But I thought a lot of our guys played hard [last night]. Now, we've got to win a game [tonight]. We've got one game left. Where it ends up, nobody knows."
Last night, the Flyers struggled most in the beginning of periods. They were outshot 7-2 in the first 8 minutes of the first period, outscored 2-0 in the first 5 minutes of the second period, outworked in the first 10 minutes of the third period and the game ended just 1:16 into the third period.
"It just seemed like we were casual with the puck and it ended up in our net," Mike Richards said.
"The first one or two rounds of every line in every period was not up to snuff," Hartnell said. "We were slow reacting to pucks. We weren't getting in on the forecheck. But as each period wore on, we got a lot of chances. That was probably our best offensive game in a long time."
Long before the Flyers left their locker room last night and boarded their charter flight home, the focus was already on the Islanders. There was no thought that it should not have come down to the last game of the season - against a New York team, no less - for the second season in a row.
"We've got to have a short memory," Richards said. "We did a lot of good things [last night]. We've put ourselves in a position to win one game at home and win the division."
"They're probably going to want to play spoiler," Hartnell said. "And we obviously want to win bad. These [bad] starts and these late-ending losses to games have to stop. We can't play 55 minutes and expect to win."
Possible first-round opponent Buffalo is now 27-11-6 since Jan. 1, its 60 points since then are the most in the East. They are also 15-4-4 since new owner Terry Pegula took over on Feb. 22 . . . Claude Giroux picked up his 51st assist, the most by a Flyer in a season since Peter Forsberg in 2006-07 . . . Ryan Miller replaced starter Jhonas Enroth for the third period . . . Kris Versteeg's shorthanded goal was the Flyers' 13th of the season, tying them for second in the NHL. *
For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at
www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at