The chase for the final wild card spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference came down to the wire on Tuesday with four teams still in contention for a playoff berth. Most eyes were on the Metropolitan Division matchup between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. Some were left stunned by the events that unfolded toward the tail end of the contest.

The Flyers needed a regulation win to keep their playoff hopes alive, although they also needed a Detroit Red Wings regulation loss to the Montreal Canadiens. With the game tied at one and three minutes left on the clock, the Flyers pulled their goalie for an extra skater, only for the Capitals to score an empty net goal to take the lead.

What Flyers head coach John Tortorella and his staff didn’t know was that almost simultaneously with their move, the Red Wings scored a game-tying goal with 3.3 seconds left to force overtime in Montreal, thus ending Philadelphia's season. The Flyers did not tie the game after the empty netter, handing the Capitals a 2-1 win and a spot in the playoffs, eliminating Philadelphia, Detroit and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the process.

“I had info on the Detroit game right after [the Capitals] scored their empty netter,” Tortorella said, per the Flyers. “I think it happened pretty close together. But I'm pulling him. That was the right time to pull him. I didn’t know anything that was going on with Detroit at that time.”

Tough pill for Red Wings to swallow

 Detroit Red Wings forward David Perron (57) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at the Bell Centre.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

It's never a great scenario to rely on other results when making a playoff push. That's where the Red Wings found themselves on Tuesday and although they did their job, it wasn’t enough to snap their postseason skid.

Detroit won each of its last three games after regulation, giving its fans some exciting moments to close the season. For the briefest of moments on Tuesday, the Red Wings thought they'd pulled a rabbit out of the hat. It wasn’t meant to be though as Detroit's playoff drought reached eight consecutive seasons after 25 straight years of playoff berths.

Flyers' promising season ends in disappointment

The Flyers weren’t supposed to sniff the playoffs this season but were in the race heading into game number 82. Philadelphia was in control of a guaranteed playoff slot in third place of the Metropolitan Division for much of the second half but fell apart in the last five weeks of the season.

After a 2-1 road win on March 7 against a Florida Panthers team that collected 110 points this season, the Flyers lost 13 of their next 18 games, notching 11 of a possible 36 points. Philadelphia fell five spots in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, failing to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

There are a lot of positives the Flyers can take away from their 2023-24 season though. Philadelphia increased their win total from a season ago by seven and finished with 12 more points. Those are encouraging numbers for a team that looked to have little to no direction at the beginning of the 2022-23 season.

The Flyers extended a few players during the season and are starting to build something. The late-season collapse will sting, but there were plenty of encouraging signs for Philadelphia that suggest a return to winning ways is closer than some might think.