Jakub Voracek caps Flyers' thrilling win over Penguins

ASSOCIATED PRESS Danny Briere loses control of the puck as he falls in front of Penguins' Sidney Crosby.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Danny Briere loses control of the puck as he falls in front of Penguins' Sidney Crosby.
Posted: February 22, 2013

PITTSBURGH - Eleven goals. Eighteen penalties. Three lead changes. Two bears in the crowd taunting Ilya Bryzgalov.

One fight. One actual hat trick and one of the Gordie Howe variety. And one relieved Flyers team on a charter flight home to Philadelphia after a six-game road swing, the longest of the season.

All that was missing from Wednesday night's circus at Consol Energy Center was a big top and an acrobat parachuting from the rafters with a ceremonial Stanley Cup playoff puck to separate it from a reenactment of last spring's epic first-round series.

In a span of 60 minutes, the Flyers trailed by two goals, led by two goals, and needed a hat trick-completing goal from Jake Voracek in the final 91 seconds to cap off a thrilling, 6-5 victory for all to see on "Rivalry Night."

"When these two teams meet, you're sure to see fireworks," the Flyers' Wayne Simmonds said. "It always seems like the last team that scores, wins."

The Penguins were almost the last team to score . . . twice. Pittsburgh even had a goal disallowed in the final 5 minutes, thanks to Chris Kunitz' deliberate kicking motion in the crease, a goal that would have originally tied the game at 5-5. Brandon Sutter finally did tie it for the Penguins with 2:03 left, but it still didn't matter.

Just 32 seconds after Sutter's goal, Voracek banked an off-angle shot off backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun's pads and into the net to put the Flyers back in front. His first career hat trick stood up as the game-winner.

"Things happened, and things happened fast," the Flyers' Max Talbot said. "People were screaming. It was intense. We killed a couple [penalties] off, we answered back and got a win we needed."

Somehow, by the razor-thin edge of Kunitz' skate blade, the Flyers closed out the long road swing with a 3-3-0 record. They'll have a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season Thursday night when they host the Florida Panthers.

Wednesday's win not only encapsulated all of the excitement that made last year's playoff death match one of the most enthralling in hockey's recent history, it also summarized the Flyers' up-and-down season.

"It was a roller coaster, you go through all kinds of emotions in one game," the Flyers' Danny Briere said. "It was just like the playoffs, lots of everything. There were parts of the game we obviously weren't happy with. It was a great feeling, fun to see how we weren't just sitting back. It was a gut check. Even when we were down early, we found a way to get back into the game."

There were parts of the game the Flyers dominated, parts they were dominated and segments that were played evenly. Coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout after the Penguins scored in the first 5:07, even before they added a second 2 minutes later.

"We started off pretty rocky," said Simmonds, who netted the "Gordie Howe hat trick" with two goals, an assist and a fight against Tanner Glass. "We finished pretty rocky. In between, we played a pretty good hockey game."

The Flyers' penalty kill, which had killed off 21 straight opportunities, was broken twice. Yet, the Flyers' penalty killers somehow held it together on two separate five-on-three disadvantages with less than 8 minutes remaining and with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the ice.

For as well and as poorly they have played at times, the Flyers have collected points in seven of their last 10 games. It just so happens that in their three losses on this road trip - in Toronto, New Jersey and Montreal - they appeared as listless as they have in years.

The Flyers head home having netted 13 goals in their last two games. Laviolette said he thought he saw a lot of their 7-0 romp on Monday in that 50-minute segment in between start and finish against Pittsburgh.

"We were a lot stronger in those competitive areas," Laviolette said. "There were just some crazy parts of the game tonight."

Slap shots

Forward Matt Read left the game in the second period with an unspecified, upper-body injury. General manager Paul Holmgren said Read would be reevaluated Thursday in Philadelphia . . . Flyers defenseman Kurtis Foster missed Wednesday's morning skate for the birth of his second son, Charles John, in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Foster rejoined the team in time for Wednesday's game . . . The Flyers lost 67 percent of the faceoffs. They were outshot, 12-2, to start the game before outshooting Pittsburgh, 30-20, the remainder of the game.

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