VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Even after watching the Flyers struggle for two months, general manager Ron Hextall still believes in his inconsistent hockey team, still believes it has the talent to make a playoff run, still is unsure if he'll issue a "for sale" sign before the March 1 trade deadline.
"We've got lots of hockey left," Hextall said before the Flyers edged Vancouver, 3-2, and ended a 1-2 road trip Sunday night. "Just because we're not in now doesn't mean we're not going to be in a few weeks."
The Flyers entered Monday two points behind Toronto for the Eastern Conference's final wild-card spot. The Maple Leafs had one game in hand.
"We definitely know we are playoff team, for sure," said defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who had a career-high three points, all assists, as the Flyers outlasted Vancouver and won for just the third time in their last nine games. "We have a lot of heart. It's going to be a big test for us next week playing these really good teams."
The Flyers host Washington on Wednesday and meet Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on Saturday. Both opponents are powerhouses.
Hextall said despite the team's poor play since its 10-game winning streak ended, the Flyers have a playoff run in them.
"We did it last year. Why can't we do it again?" he said. "We've got a good team. We also need to play better. That's the bottom line. Play better more consistently. But I like the way we've been playing defense lately."
The offense, however, has lagged, scoring just 24 goals (excluding empty-netters) in the last 15 games. That's an average of 1.6 goals per game.
"Last year nobody would have guessed we'd make the playoffs, and we did," right winger Jake Voracek said. "We are in a better spot this year than last year, points-wise and standings-wise. We just have to keep it going."
At a corresponding point last season, the Flyers had the same number of points - 63 - after 59 games. But they were five points out of a playoff spot and had to climb over four teams.
Entering Monday, they were two points out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot and had to pass three teams. Just five points separated seven teams batting for the final wild-card spot.
The Flyers are 9-14-4 since their 10-game winning streak ended.
"It's tough going through a stretch like that," left winger Brayden Schenn said after his power-play goal gave the Flyers a 3-0 lead and proved to the game-winner Sunday. "We're right in the thick of it. We've come back from a lot more points behind.
"We believe in this locker room we can do it, and it's going to be a fight right to the end," he added.
Special teams won Sunday's game. The Flyers were 2 for 3 on the power play, while Vancouver was 0 for 4. For the second straight game, Ivan Provorov was on the first power-play unit, and Voracek dropped to the second unit.
Coach Dave Hakstol said the power play had grown stagnant, so he's hoping the moves give the units more balance.
Wayne Simmonds, who scored a power-play goal and contributed six hits, said the victory helped erase the memories of an ugly 6-3 loss Thursday against the Oilers.
"We needed a win, especially after the game in Edmonton," he said. "This is good for the morale."
In eight February games, the Flyers have killed 15 of 17 penalties (88.2 percent). . . . The Flyers blocked more shots (24) against Vancouver than they let through (20). . . . Simmonds on Gostisbehere's performance Sunday: "He had his confidence and a little bit of swagger. I think that went for everybody. Ghost has had his ups and downs this year, but he's a heck of a player and has unbelievable skill. He can be a catalyst offensively for us." . . . Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to play in the alumni game Monday against the Flyers in Russia.