With four minutes remaining in the Flyers' final game against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins during another unfulfilled season, the Wells Fargo Center crowd started chants of "You can't beat us!"
There has been little for Flyers fans to cheer about during the last month, but they found a worthy one Sunday. Even though the Flyers will finish the season this week with one of the NHL's worst records, they will at least have an undefeated mark against the Penguins.
The Flyers finalized the four-game season sweep with a 4-1 victory in an Easter Sunday matinee that weakened Pittsburgh's postseason push. It was the third time the Flyers swept the Penguins and the first since 1983-84.
"It's motivation seeing them slipping down the standings here, beating them again, and maybe make their life harder to make the playoffs," forward Sean Couturier said. ". . . There was a lot of emotions out there, a lot of playoff plays - little checks after the whistle and stuff like that. It's always a fun game to play against them."
"The first period, we realized it was a playoff game," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "Our goalie kept us in it, for sure, played great, and then coming out of there, we realized the intensity of the game and what it meant for them."
Steve Mason made 21 saves in the first period and 46 for the game, matching a season high and falling one shy of the most of his career.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead late in the first period on Brandon Sutter's power-play goal. The Flyers evened the score on a power play with 42 seconds remaining in the period when Jake Voracek slapped his 22d goal of the season past Thomas Greiss.
The Flyers did all the scoring thereafter, even with the Penguins outshooting them, 47-20, for the game. Three of the Flyers' four goals came on power plays.
Mason stopped the Penguins on Pittsburgh's only other power play. He enters the final three games with a save percentage of .929 and a goals-against average of 2.19. He considered Sunday one of the best performances of his career.
"Just the position that we're in, we wanted to take this away from them, so that was a nice feeling," Mason said. "But in order to win a game, you have to have guys sacrifice themselves in front of you, and they did that."
Mason said Pittsburgh tried getting under the Flyers' skin. Berube had spoken to the team about the game's importance for the Penguins.
Ryan White, who scored the third goal, said that the Penguins were "chirping" after the Flyers' 4-1 win last Wednesday that the Flyers were going home at the end of the season. But the Penguins have now lost three in a row - two against the Flyers - and have not clinched a spot yet.
"They had a couple stumbles this week and it was nice to put another nail in their coffin, too, so hopefully they keep losing," White said.
Brayden Schenn and Michael Del Zotto also scored for the Flyers. Schenn added two assists, giving him six points in the last three games.
The Flyers outscored Pittsburgh, 16-7, in four games. Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who leads the NHL in points, has only one point against the Flyers. Voracek, who is two points behind Crosby, had six in the season series.
The players in the Flyers' dressing room took delight in spoiling their rivals' afternoon.
"Our fate's sealed, but it doesn't mean we can't ruin other people's," Mason said. "That's what we were trying to do today."
The Flyers paid tribute to referee Paul Devorski, who dropped the puck in the regular season for the final time of a 25-year career that included 1,594 games. . . . Del Zotto tied a career high with his 10th goal of the season.
BY THE NUMBERS
Saves by Steve Mason against the Penguins
Flyers' record against the Pens this season
Flyers' record against the Pens since last season