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Flyers keep playoff hopes alive

– Steve Mason gave the Flyers a taste of a fabulous performance in net in crunch time.

He would love to help keep it going in the playoffs.

Mason stopped 38 shots in his first home start for Philadelphia and gave the Flyers’ faint playoff hopes a boost in a 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Brayden Schenn, Erik Gustafsson and Kimmo Timonen scored to lead the Flyers to their second win in two nights.

Mason shook off leg cramps late in the third period to outduel New York’s Henrik Lundqvist in a pivotal matchup.

“As a younger goalie in the league, he’s someone you look up to and want to compete against,” Mason said. “I was able to get the best of him and I look forward to being able to do that more often.”

Mason won the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year in the 2008-09 season, but spent this year as a backup in Columbus. He is out to prove he is more than a No. 2 goalie. Getting the spot start for Ilya Bryzgalov, Mason proved he might be worth another look down the stretch.

Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan scored for the Rangers, who have a tenuous hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers are tied with Winnipeg with 46, but New York has six games remaining, compared to five for Winnipeg.

ISLANDERS 5, PANTHERS 2: In Uniondale, N.Y., Michael Grabner scored twice and Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves as New York moved closer to a playoff berth.

Playing before a boisterous crowd at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders earned their ninth time in 12 games while playing their final regular-season home game.

The Islanders, 10-11-3 at home after starting 2-8-1, will begin a season-ending, five-game trip Thursday in Toronto. With a 14-5-3 mark since March 1, the Islanders hold seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

CAPITALS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 1: In Washington, Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 28th goal, as Washington won its eighth straight.

Jack Hillen, Martin Erat, Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson also scored, and Braden Holtby made 29 saves for the Southeast Division-leading Capitals.

SENATORS 3, HURRICANES 2: In Ottawa, Craig Anderson made 32 saves to help Ottawa get its third straight win. Mika Zibanejad, Cory Conacher and Chris Neil all scored as Ottawa remained in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the New York Islanders.

BLUES 2, CANUCKS 1, SO: In St. Louis, Jay Bouwmeester tied the score midway through the third period, and Andy McDonald and Alex Steen scored in the shootout to lead St. Louis.

Brian Elliott made 21 saves in regulation and stopped Derek Roy and Alexandre Burrows in the shootout, solidifying the Blues’ chances in a tight Western Conference race.