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Thrashers blank Flyers, keep playoff hopes alive
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PHILADELPHIA - Nik Antropov scored the only goal, and Chris Mason stopped 43 shots for his first shutout of the season in the Atlanta Thrashers' 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

Mason earned his 21st career shutout and was sensational against the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers. He stopped 14 shots in the second period and got some timely offensive help for his 13th win of the season.

Antropov scored his 15th goal midway through the third period and it stuck to keep Atlanta's faint playoff hopes alive.

The Thrashers crashed after a 20-15-6 start and will need to win their final five games and get some help to make the postseason for only the second time in team history.

Atlanta went 3-1 vs. Philadelphia this season. The Flyers lead the Washington Capitals by one point - 102-101 - for first place in the conference.

Mason was outstanding in the final minute. He made one kick save off his left leg and Jeff Carter's quick rebound knocked off the post with 4.7 seconds left to help Atlanta hang on.

The Flyers, who pride themselves on their intimidating home-ice advantage, have lost five straight at home. The Thrashers started the streak March 12, then came consecutive shootout losses, and a 2-1 loss to Boston on Sunday night.

The Flyers might wish they could pass on the home-ice edge advantage that would come in the postseason with a No. 1 seed. They are a sparkling 25-9-4 on the road.

The Thrashers would have to feel good about pulling off a postseason upset if they could sneak into the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 8 seed.

Atlanta snapped the scoreless game with 9:38 left in the third. The Thrashers didn't solve Sergei Bobrovsky as much as they caught a break - Evander Kane's pass cross-crease pass to Antropov shot off the skate and into the net.

The goal stood after a brief review showed Antropov did not make a kicking motion.

For all their success, the Flyers have yet to get a shutout this season. Brian Boucher had the last one on April 6, 2010, vs. Toronto.

The Flyers continue to struggle without defenseman Chris Pronger in the lineup. He had surgery earlier this month on his broken right hand and their home-ice swoon started around the same time. The Flyers have lost 10 of 16 games.

Notes: The Flyers honored former captain Bill Barber in a pregame ceremony. He scored 420 goals and had 883 career points and helped lead them to two Stanley Cup championships. ... Atlanta is 7-4-1 since March 5 to make its late playoff push.

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