More than talent, more than clutch scoring, the Flyers were pushed to the finish line by emotion.

That's what made the start and finish of Saturday's playoff-clinching, 3-1 win over Pittsburgh so memorable.

In a moving pregame tribute, Lauren Hart sang "God Bless America" in a duet with a video of Kate Smith, and face-timed her rendition to ill Flyers chairman and cofounder Ed Snider in California. Hart blew kisses to Snider when she was finished.

"It was her idea; it was just one of those things that came from the heart," said Shawn Tilger, the Flyers' chief operating officer of business operations. "It gave me chills."

She texted Tilger after one of the most stirring performances of her career. "He never made it to the building, so I thought he deserved all our love," she wrote.

The Flyers have said they were dedicating their season to the ailing Snider, whom they visited at his Montecito, Calif., mansion while on a West Coast trip in late December.

When they returned from that trip, they were 15-15-7. They have since gone on a 25-12-7 run to get a playoff berth.

After the Flyers' inartistic-but-critical win Saturday was in the books, after they mobbed the man most responsible for their late-season surge - goalie Steve Mason - the players talked in revered tones about Snider and how he had provided the inspiration for the season.

"It's special to play for Mr. Snider," winger Ryan White said. "I've only been here a short time, but to have an owner like that, I get goose bumps just talking about it. He's the face of the franchise, and we're going to keep on doing it for him, for sure."

Winger Wayne Simmonds scored two goals to lead Saturday's win. Snider, he said, was on his mind.

"It's unfortunate Mr. Snider couldn't be here with us today," Simmonds said. "Obviously this organization owes everything to Mr. Snider. If it wasn't for Mr. Snider, not one person in this dressing room would be here, so we played our hearts out. We owe him a lot, and we still owe him."

"We know he's back home in California watching us," goalie Steve Mason said after making 18 saves, including a game-changing stop when the Penguins had a 1-0, first-period lead. "We know he's been tuning in all season long, so for us to be able to come up with a playoff appearance, it couldn't happen to a better person. We're real proud to put a sweater on that he's created."

Mason was unaware Hart was face-timing Snider as she sang "God Bless America."

"That's awesome," he said. "He's the face of this franchise. Even though he hasn't been around, he hasn't been forgotten, that's for sure. We just want to make him proud as we go on here. We know he's watching, so that's all the motivation we need."

Captain Claude Giroux had to stop in midsentence as he talked about Snider and what he has meant to the city.

"You get real emotional when you start thinking about it," he said before pausing for a few seconds. "We know he's happy we made the playoffs and is excited. We definitely did it for him tonight."

Now they are playing with house money, playing without pressure, playing with nothing to lose because not many people expect them to beat the powerful Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.

"They have a good team; we know they'll be ready, and we know they'll be hungry," White said. "They're expected to be the big team out of the East here. . . . It's going to be a lot of fun. It's tough being the first seed, and we're feeling pretty good about ourselves. We've been playing some good hockey here lately, and we're just going to go in and play our game and lay our chips on the table."

They are all in.

For Snider.

scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

www.philly.com/flyersblog