February 20, 2013
Box Score (From Flyers.NHL.com)
NBC will have a hard time finding a game that better defines their "Wednesday Night Rivalry" moniker.
Wednesday night's Flyers-Penguins game had it all. A hat-trick, a Howe hat-trick, controversy and spectacular saves. But the most important thing is that the Flyers beat the Penguins 6-5 in a key game on the road.
The most exciting, and stressful, part of the game was easily in the final 10 minutes of the third period.
Trying to hold on to a 5-3 lead, the Flyers' Mike Knuble was sent to the box for a horribly timed double-minor high-sticking call at 11:36. Then Ruslan Fedetenko followed suit with his own high-sticking minor at 12:17 to give the Penguins a 5-on-3 advantage.
Pittsburgh's James Neal capitalized on the situation by scoring a power play goal on a slap-shot from inside the circle to the right of Ilya Bryzgalov.
Neal's goal put the Penguins within one, and Pittsburgh still had time on the power play to utilize.
With 5:39 left, and 0:25 left on the power play, it looked like Chris Kunitz tied the game when he scored off of a loose puck in front of the net.
The Flyers caught a break though. Bryzgalov immediately got up and protested to the refs that Kunitz kicked the puck in while the Penguins were celebrating. The play was reviewed and the refs reversed the call after it was determined that Kunitz did score using his foot.
The break did not last long however, as Pittsburgh's Brandon Sutter scored on a wrap around goal to tie the game at five a piece with just over two minutes left.
It seemed like the momentum was in the Penguins favor after coming back from a two-goal deficit. But Jakub Voracek was able to put an end to that fast.
With a two-goal night already, Voracek threw a shot on, from behind the goal-line, that somehow slid into the net to complete the hat-trick and give his team the lead back.
The goal left Penguins' goaltender Tomas Vokoun stunned, as he laid there in the net trying to figure out what happened with a 1:31 left on the clock.
Voracek's two other goals happened only 28 seconds of game-time apart from each other, and in two separate periods.
Voracek scored with 9.9 seconds left in the second period, after he picked up a rebound from a point blank shot by Wayne Simmonds in front of the net, that deflected into the circle to the right of Vokoun.
18 seconds into the third, Ruslan Fedotenko tried to jam the puck in, after he caught Vokoun lazily playing the puck from behind the net.
Both Fedotenko and Claude Giroux tried to force the puck by Vokoun, before it slid out to Braydon Coburn, whose shot resulted in a rebound that left a wide open net for Voracek.
The Penguins tried to make one final push to at least force overtime, but the Flyers were able to hold them off.
Time expired while the Penguins were in the offensive zone, allowing the Flyers to quickly celebrate around Bryzgalov when the horn sounded.
Wayne Simmonds, who had two goals on Wednesday night, had the rare opportunity to complete both the regular and Gordie Howe hat-trick.
In the first period Danny Briere faked a slap-shot from the top of the left circle, then fed a pass over to Simmonds.
Simmonds made skated in towards the net, then made a move to put the puck past Vokoun for the goal at 12:49.
A fight involving Simmonds and Pittsburgh's Tanner Glass happened 49 seconds later, then Simmonds was credited with the assist on Voracek's goal in the second period to complete the Howe hat-trick.
In the third, Simmonds took a wrist shot that deflected off the stick of Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen and into the net for his second goal of the night.
The Flyers had a shaky start in the opening minutes of the game.
After allowing a goal by Niskanen 5:07 into the game, coach Peter Laviolette called for what has become his famous timeout.
The Flyers would fall into a 2-0 hole following the timeout, after Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin scored a power play goal 7:15 in.
But the Flyers fought back, getting on the board just over halfway through the period.
Nicklas Grossmann scored during a pileup in front of the net, that allowed Sean Couturier to take three shots on goal before Grossmann was finally able to get the puck in.
The Flyers would go on to tie the game up and take the lead from there. Philadelphia did not let the Penguins take another lead after they tied the game.
By the end of the night the Flyers and Penguins were even in shots, with each team taking 32. Bryzgalov made 27 saves while the opposing goalie in Vokoun made 26.
It was a rough night for both goaltenders that was sure to spark memories of the high-scoring playoff series last April.
The Flyers (8-9-1) wrapped up a six-game road trip at 3-3 with the win on Wednesday night. They will return home to the Wells Fargo Center for their second game in as many days against the Florida Panthers (4-7-4).
Extras: Matt Read left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Harry Zolnierczyk got a bloody nose in the first period when he was hit by Deryk Engelland. Zolneirczyk left the game, but did return. He was on a delayed penalty for boarding on Pittsburgh's Robert Bortuzzo, so Zac Rinaldo served the penalty while Zolnierczyk was in the locker room. Kurtis Foster, Tye McGinn and Tom Sestito were the Flyers' scratches for Wednesday night's game.
(Images from NHL.com and Getty Images)