CALGARY, Alberta -- Playing in just his 54th NHL game, left winger Matthew Tkachuk knew just how much was at stake on Wednesday night.
Tkachuk scored once and set up the game-winning goal by TJ Brodie as his Calgary Flames beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
"They're a team that obviously is a good team and they're fighting for their lives and we're fighting for our lives," said Tkachuk, who moved into the second spot in scoring for the Flames with 11 goals and 25 assists in his rookie season. "I think at this point of the year if you're not going into every game knowing you have to win and playing that way you're not going to make the playoffs. We have to do that."
Goaltender Brian Elliott played a key part in backstopping Calgary to the win by stopping 33 of 34 shots he faced.
"It's all about your responses," said Elliott, who made eight saves in a relief appearance two nights earlier at home during a 5-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. "You're going to have games that are not going to come out in your favor if you play well or you don't.
"It's about how you respond and come back that next game. I was really proud of the guys to see that, because we weren't proud of the way we played that last game and we knew we were better than that."
The Flames (29-26-3) leapfrogged past the Los Angeles Kings for the final Western Conference wild-card playoff spot. The Kings have three games in hand on the Flames, though.
Nick Cousins scored the lone goal for the Flyers (27-23-7), who remain two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final Eastern Conference wild-card position.
"It sucks," said Cousins bluntly after the game. "Obviously you want to start the road trip off the right way. I thought we took it to them there most of the game. I thought their goalie played well, but that's been the excuse the last 10, 15 games. We've got to make it harder for them. We've got to get more traffic. It's the same excuse here it feels like after every game. We've got to score more goals, simple as that."
Making his second consecutive start and fifth in Philadelphia's past six games, goalie Michal Neuvirth finished with 20 saves.
Calgary captain Mark Giordano scored into an empty net with 38.4 seconds left in the game as the Flames improved their record when leading after two periods to 21-0-1.
Cousins opened the scoring at 1:30 of the first period when he converted a feed from Matt Read, who stole the puck from Calgary defenseman Dennis Wideman to set up the goal.
Tkachuk answered right back for the Flames at 4:28 when he one-timed a nice backhand pass from Mikael Backlund past Neuvirth.
The Flyers had a great chance to retake the lead after Alex Chiasson took a five-minute major for spearing Cousins in front of the Philadelphia bench. Calgary's Sean Monahan subsequently was assessed a delay-of-game penalty after he lifted the puck from his own blue line over the glass behind Neuvirth, but Philadelphia squandered a five-on-three advantage for a full two minutes.
"That's one pivotal point of the game where obviously we could have pushed the game back our direction," said Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol. "We didn't win enough puck battles. Those initial puck battles on our power play, that's a strength of ours and tonight we didn't win very many of those in that segment on that five-minute (advantage) and really even on the five-on-three."
Elliott kicked out his right pad for a nice toe save to turn aside a point-blank shot by Wayne Simmonds late in the two-man advantage before making a glove grab to stop a shot by Cousins as time expired in Monahan's penalty.
Although they were outshot 10-5 in the second period, the Flames took a 2-1 lead at 12:45 when Brodie took a pass from Tkachuk at the point and wristed a shot past Neuvirth, who was screened by Sam Bennett on the play.
-- Although Flyers D Michael Del Zotto has recuperated from a lower-body injury, he didn't suit up against Calgary, missing his 10th game in a row.
-- Philadelphia's other healthy scratches were D Nick Schultz and RW Dale Weise.
-- C/LW Lance Bouma returned to Calgary's lineup after sitting out the previous two games. He played on the fourth line with C Matt Stajan and RW/LW Micheal Ferland.
-- Calgary scratched D Jyrki Jokipakka, C Freddie Hamilton and RW Garnet Hathaway.
-- The Flames signed D Matt Bartkowski to a professional tryout contract on Wednesday.
-- The Flyers will continue their three-game road trip with stops in Edmonton on Thursday and in Vancouver on Sunday.
-- The Flames will kick off a five-game road trip in Vancouver on Saturday.