Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman watches the puck after making a save in the first period of the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Flyers on Saturday in Philadelphia. Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Maybe it wasn’t a do-or-die game. For the Philadelphia Flyers, however, it was a win they absolutely needed.

Sean Couturier broke a tie in the third period, and the Flyers picked up a critical 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

Brian Elliott stopped 29 shots for Philadelphia, which moved within four points of Boston for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NHL’s East Division. The Bruins have two games in hand on the Flyers, with Philadelphia having 16 games remaining. The two teams have completed their regular-season series.

“I think it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t have liked our chances of battling back if we would have lost,” Flyers Coach Alain Vigneault said. “We needed to win, especially in regulation and especially (against) a team that we are chasing. They’ve got two games in hand, but they’ve got a lot of hockey to play in a short amount of time. You never know how it’s going to turn out. We got to take care of our own business and focus on our game here.”

Travis Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere also scored to help Philadelphia get just its second win in eight contests against Boston this season.

“It’s about gaining momentum and confidence and trying to string together those segments where you’re winning a lot of games,” said Konecny, who also added an assist. “As far as how we’ve been playing, we’re not super surprised. It’s how we’ve been wanting to play all year and how we know we can play, and now it’s just coming together and things are starting to happen for us.

“We just got to stick to the same way we’ve been playing, the same plan, and regroup and come back and be ready to play again.”

Patrice Bergeron and Jack DeBrusk scored for the Bruins. Former UMaine goalie Jeremy Swayman stopped 20 shots in his first NHL loss after winning his first two games.

“Obviously, they had a lot to play for,” Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We had a few breakdowns and they converted on them.”

Couturier scored just under seven minutes into the third, converting a Joel Farabee pass to the right of the net for his 12th goal of the year.

That was enough for Elliott and the beleaguered Flyers’ defensive corps, which clamped down on the Bruins’ power play. Boston was 10 for 20 with a man advantage against the Flyers entering the game but was held scoreless in four tries.

“The ability to get in lanes, have good sticks and force them into plays that they don’t really want to make, I thought we were really strong in that area,” Elliott said. “It’s something we’ve been stressing for a while now. I think we’ve been getting better and better.”

Boston opened the scoring early in the first period when Bergeron capitalized on a turnover behind the Philadelphia net and whipped a one-timer past Elliott off a pass from Craig Smith. It was Bergeron’s 16th goal of the season, and his eighth in eight games against the Flyers.

The Flyers answered quickly when Konecny pounced on a deep rebound from a Robert Haag shot and put it into the empty left side of the net. Late in the first period, Konecny threaded a nifty pass to Gostisbehere, who tipped it past Swayman to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.

Boston tied the game midway through the second period when DeBrusk beat Elliott from just above the crease.

“There’s no time for excuses right now,” DeBrusk said. “We’re trying to rally around each other. This is a playoff push and it is the most exciting time of the year.”


Bruins: Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk left the game after the first period because of what the club described as an upper body injury. He was playing on the top pairing of the Bruins’ battered defensive unit, which was depleted by injuries to Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. He is listed as day-to-day.

Tuukka Rask could return for Sunday’s game against the Capitals. Rask has been battling an upper body injury and has played one period since March 7.

Flyers: Ivan Provorov, Philaadelphia’s top defenseman, returned to the game shortly after taking a point shot just inside the left kneecap and crumbling to the ice in pain just 18 seconds into the game.

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