A baby step for road-challenged Flyers

  PITTSBURGH _ This was a game the Flyers hoped would jump-start Operation Playoff Push.

 And as the minutes disappeared in the third period Sunday night and the Flyers clung to a 1-0 lead over the powerful Pittsburgh Penguins, they were closing in on their biggest victory of the season.

 And then….

 A slashing penalty on Wayne Simmonds, followed by a necessary holding penalty on Kimmo Timonen, gave the Penguins a five-on-three power play.

 Sidney Crosby took advantage, scoring a power-play goal with 6:14 left in regulation and triggering the Penguins’ 12th straight victory, a 2-1 overtime triumph at Consol Energy Center.

 The Flyers at least came up with a point _ they are now 4-12-1 on the road _ and remained five points out of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 17 games left.

 The Flyers (13-16-2) did a lot of good things Sunday and played one of their better road games of the season. They won 57 percent of the faceoffs, kept most of the Penguins’ shots from outside, and got strong performances from revived goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (33 saves) _ who probably benefited he most from a  five-day break in the schedule _ and a defense that was missing the injured Nick Grossmann.

 But once again, the offense did not produce. It marked the 20th time in 32 games that the Flyers have scored two goals or fewer.

 That said, the Flyers can build off an excellent defensive effort. They play the next five games at home _ facing the Rangers, Islanders, Bruins, Capitals and Canadiens _ and they have left themselves little margin for error.

 Breakaways.Defenseman Luke Schenn played 28:29 and had seven hits and four blocked shots……Sean Couturier won six of eight faceoffs…… As of now, the Flyers are not making a pitch for Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester or San Jose’s Dan Boyle, according to a source familiar with the situation. The defensemen could be moved before the April 3 trade deadline…..Simmonds on the Flyers’ scoring woes: “Last year we got a lot more pucks deep and that definitely helps your offensive production.”…..Crosby: “Our depth is showing right now.”…..The Flyers and Penguins had combined for 20 goals in their two previous meetings….Pittsburgh is 10-0 since former Flyers defenseman Mark Eaton, the pride of Delaware, was signed and inserted into the lineup…A year ago, the Flyers ended the Penguins' 11-game winning streak, scoring a 3-2 victory as Scott Hartnell deposited a goal with 0.9 seconds left in overtime. Two seasons ago, Hartnell scored the winner midway through the final period, enabling the Flyers to edge the Penguins, 3-2, and end Pittsburgh's 12-game winning streak.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.