Looking dead in the water, the Flyers revived their slim playoff hopes Saturday night by rallying past the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stadium Series showdown at rainy, percolating Lincoln Financial Field.
The Flyers scored two goals with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker to tie the game at 3-3, then won it on Claude Giroux’s goal through Matt Murray’s legs with 3 minutes, 1 second left in overtime.
Flyers 4, Penguins 3.
“I had a one-on-one, and I was able to get a step on their D-man and was able to squeak one five-hole,” Giroux said.
Jake Voracek (three points), from an odd angle near the boards, tied it with 19.7 seconds left in regulation. James van Riemsdyk had brought the Flyers to within 3-2 with a six-on-four, power-play rebound with 3:04 remaining in regulation.
“With the conditions and down 3-1, I think everybody did a good job to keep on pressuring,” said Giroux, whose team outshot the Penguins, 18-10, in the third period. “It was great. I’ve got goosebumps right now. I’ve been in this building a few times to watch the Eagles, and to get a chance to play here is unbelievable.”
The Flyers inched to within seven points of the final playoff spot with 20 games left.
“Crazy ending. We’re happy to be on the right side of it and happy to get the two points and we stay alive here,” van Riemsdyk said.
It was the Flyers’ first victory in four outdoor games in franchise history, and it took three goals in the last 5:03 to win it before a wet sellout crowd of 69,620.
Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist to lead the Penguins, who played without their two top defensemen for most of the game.
With the rain intensifying in the third period and making passes and shots an adventure, Murray stopped Voracek at the doorstep to keep the Penguins ahead, 2-1, with 19:48 left in regulation.
A short time later, Brian Elliott (40 saves) robbed Phil Kessel down the other end.
But a miscue by Elliott enabled the Penguins to take a 3-1 lead with 13:31 left. Elliott got his glove on Evgeni Malkin’s long shot, but the puck bounced into the air and hit the back of the goalie’s right calf and caromed into the net.
Crosby and Sean Couturier exchanged goals in a feisty, 1-1 first period in which the Penguins’ forecheck kept the Flyers hemmed in their own zone. Pittsburgh had an 18-8 shots domination.
With 3:37 to go in the first, Wayne Simmonds, who may have played his final game for the Flyers because he is on the trading block, leveled Brian Dumoulin with a hard check to his shoulder. Kris Letang went after Simmonds, and Shayne Gostisbehere knocked Letang to the ice in the ensuing melee.
Dumoulin and Letang, the Penguins’ top-pairing on defense, went to the locker room with injuries and stayed there the rest of the night. Letang and Simmonds were given two-minute penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Penguins said Dumoulin suffered a concussion, and they said Letang had an upper-body injury.
"It’s tough to lose your top pairing for a majority of the game, but I thought the other four stepped up and played well,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, whose defense was led by Jack Johnson (31:08 time on ice) and Justin Schultz (30:02).
The Penguins regained the lead when Schultz whipped a right-circle tracer to the short side and over Elliott’s glove, putting the Penguins ahead, 2-1, midway through the second period.
With the Penguins holding a 3-1 lead, van Riemsdyk’s goal triggered the stunning comeback.
“I’m just trying to find an open area in front of the net,” van Riemsdyk said about the six-on-four goal. “I was able to get a good bounce and the puck came to me.”
Van Riemsdyk had just two goals in his previous 12 games, and Giroux had only one goal in his previous nine games before they tallied perhaps their most important scores of the season.
“It doesn’t shock me,” Giroux said about a sellout crowd attending a game played in rainy conditions. “Philly sports fans are the most passionate around.”
Especially when their team beats the odds and defeats their most bitter rivals.
“I thought we had complete control of the game, even in the third period,” Sullivan said. “But then they got a power play and those are tough to defense.”