Flyers protect Giroux (again), show fight

The Capitals' Steve Oleksy fights with the Flyers' Jakub Voracek in the third period. (Tom Mihalek/AP)

This just in: The Flyers have some fight in them, after all.

Depleted by injuries to their defense, they have still managed to get points in three straight games and have climbed to within two points of the eighth-place New York Rangers in the East.

They stunned the visiting Washington Capitals in overtime on Sunday, 5-4, by overcoming a two-goal deficit in the final 7:12 of regulation.

Before they rallied, winger Jake Voracek _ who has arguably been the Flyers’ MVP this season _ went from being the goat to being glorified for sticking up for teammate Claude Giroux.

Voracek pounded Steve Oleksy (who needed stitches) in a third-period fight, but he forgot to take off his visor. Afterward, he admitted he didn’t realize that was a penalty. You can’t blame the guy. It was the first fight in his NHL career.

Voracek went after Oleksy because the Caps’ defenseman had hit Giroux, the Flyers’ captain. The Caps said it was a clean hit. So did the Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo.

When the referees were done sorting things out, Oleksy and Voracek both received fighting majors. But Voracek also got two minutes for instigating, two minutes for fighting with a visor as the instigator, and a 10-minute misconduct.

The Flyers’ playoff hopes seemed to be vanishing as the Capitals scored two goals and took a 4-2 lead while Voracek watched in horror from the penalty box.

But after the Flyers made their stirring comeback _ Giroux’s power-play goal, Kimmo Timonen’s tally during a relentless Giroux shift with 9.5 seconds left in regulation, and Ruslan Fedotenko’s OT winner _ most of the players wanted to talk about Voracek’s grit.

“I’m really proud of what Jake did there,” Timonen  said.

“Jake dropping the gloves, you don’t see that every day,” Giroux said. “He’s just a great teammate and a great linemate. I think everyone in the room is lucky to have him as a teammate. He cares a lot for this team, so that kind of got everyone going.”

There was a game against the Islanders last week where Giroux was slammed into the boards by Lubomir Visnovsky, but the Flyers did nothing.

Since then, they have protected Giroux like the Flyers guarded Bobby Clarke when they were in their heyday.

In Saturday’s 3-1 win over Boston, Zdeno Charo took a run at Giroux, and Luke Schenn went after the 6-foot-9, 255-pound defenseman, getting into a wrestling match.

And now Voracek.

“It was great because I was ready to jump over the boards,” said Rinaldo, who had seven hits in 8:08 of ice time. “Thank God Jake did, or else I was going out there.”

Breakaways. Lost in the shuffle of the late-game heroics was that the Flyers killed a five-on-three power play for a full two minutes in the first period.....Schenn was a standout for the second straight game; he played a game-high 26:31 and had three hits, four blocked shots and was plus-1 while mentoring rookie defensive partner Oliver Lauridsen….The Flyers will go for their first three-game winning streak of the season Wednesday against visiting Montreal, a team that defeated them, 4-1, on Feb. 16…..The severity of Max Talbot’s injury (see story) should be known on Monday.....Fedotenko's goal was his first in 30 games, excluding an empty-netter......The Flyers inched to 12th in the East; they will not practice on Monday....Scott Laughton, who played the first five games of the season with the Flyers after being drafted in the first round last June, is tearing up the OHL playoffs. In five games against Niagara, Laughton had six goals and six assists and was plus-7, carrying Oshawa into the second round.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.