The Philadelphia Flyers edged out a 6-5 win at the CONSOL Energy Center tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a ridiculous contest between the Atlantic Division opponents. Jakub Voracek recorded a hat trick and Wayne Simmonds had a three-point night, as well as a Gordie Howe hat trick, in a wild one-goal win on the road. Ilya Bryzgalov had 27 saves and Tomas Vokoun registered 26 saves, as the pair struggled in the 32 shots they saw apiece. Paul Martin had a three-assist evening, while Evgeni Malkin and James Neal each had a goal and an assist in the emotional defeat.
“It was a great game for the players, the fans, for everybody,” Peter Laviolette said. “It was good playoff-type hockey.”
The crowd was still soaking in the fact that Brandon Sutter just tied the game at five with 2:03 left in regulation when Voracek threw a puck on net from behind the goal line to bounce off of Vokoun and into the cage with 1:31 remaining. Claude Giroux wrapped the puck around the boards to Voracek, who fought off Brooks Orpik before he turned around in the corner to the left of Vokoun and threw the game-winner at the net.
“I didn’t want to turn it over or do something stupid, so I just tried to throw it to the net,” Voracek said after the win.
Philly came into the third period with a 3-2 lead and quickly extended their advantage when Ruslan Fedotenko pressured Vokoun behind his cage in the opening seconds of the stanza. Vokoun attempted to sit on the puck just outside of the crease near the post to his right, but the Flyers were able to pull the puck away from the goaltender. This led to Voracek receiving the puck at the bottom of the circle on the other side of the ice for an easy backhand goal.
The visitors had a chance to put the game away shortly after Voracek’s goal, when Sean Couturier was able to get under Malkin’s skin and force the Penguins’ star to serve a double minor for roughing, while Philly’s second-year skater went to the sin bin for just a slashing.
Unfortunately for the Orange and Black, they couldn’t capitalize on the situation, which led to Tyler Kennedy’s second of 2013 to make it a one-goal game.
A Martin shot from the point was blocked in front of Bryzgalov before Pitt’s forward jumped on the loose puck. Moving away from the slot and towards the bottom of the circle to Bryzgalov’s left, Kennedy let go of a wrist shot that beat Philly’s netminder to make it 4-3 with 14:31 left in the tilt.
The home players and crowd seemed to regain life after Kennedy’s goal, as they pressured the Flyers for the next two minutes before Simmonds put home his second of the night to restore the visitors’ two-goal lead.
Simmonds led a rush into the offensive zone with Giroux and attempted to throw a pass to the captain from the top of the circle to Vokoun’s right to the far post. Unfortunately for Simmonds, the pass never reached Giroux. Fortunately for the gritty forward, Matt Niskanen broke up the pass by redirecting the cross-ice toss into his own net past Vokoun’s blocker.
If the two-goal lead with 12:24 left wasn’t enough for Philadelphia, Tanner Glass was hit with a high-sticking double minor on Zac Rinaldo in the neutral zone. The penalty, however, turned out to help the Penguins.
With 20 seconds left on Glass’ double minor, Mike Knuble was hit with a double minor of his own for high-sticking when he nailed Deryk Engelland up high. Fedotenko joined Knuble in the box just 41 seconds later when he caught Neal with a high stick. With a two-man advantage for 1:19, Neal slammed home his 12th of the season to return it to a one-goal game.
Sidney Crosby stood at the faceoff dot to Bryz’s right before he tossed the puck to Malkin at the top of the slot. After a quick stride, Malkin glided a pass to Neal, who ripped home a shot that squeaked between Bryzgalov’s right hip and arm with 7:14 left in the game.
While the Flyers were still down two men, Max Talbot was called for a delay of game minor for closing his hand on the puck. Despite all the time the Flyers spent on the penalty kill, they still had a one-goal lead intact before Sutter evened the score with a little over two minutes left in regulation.
Sutter possessed the puck behind Bryzgalov’s net shortly after an offensive zone faceoff before he circled the cage from left to right and stuffed the biscuit past Bryzgalov to make it 5-5 with 2:03 left in the contest.
The contest didn’t start out too well for the Flyers, as Niskanen and Malkin recorded goals 2:08 apart to give the hosts a two-goal advantage 7:15 into the opening frame.
The Orange and Black cut the lead to one on a crazy scramble in the crease that led to Nicklas Grossmann’s first of 2013. Exactly one minute after Grossmann’s goal, Simmonds potted his fifth of the year.
Danny Briere found Simmonds at the bottom of the circle to Vokoun’s right before he made a move to beat the goalie and even the score at the score at two goals apiece.
Voracek put home his second goal of the game on a power play late in the second period to put Philly up 3-2.
The Flyers return home for a game against the Florida Panthers tomorrow night.
Notes: Tonight’s win concluded the Flyers six-game road trip. They were 3-3-0 on the trip…Matt Read left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury…The trio of Tom Sestito, Kurtis Foster, and Tye McGinn were scratched for Philly. Dustin Jeffrey, Zach Boychuk, and Simon Despres were scratched for the Pens…The Flyers improved to 1-1-0 against the Penguins this season and to 3-4-0 against the rest of the Atlantic Division (NJD 0-2-0, PIT 1-1-0, NYR 1-1-0, NYI 1-0-0).