PHILADELPHIA -- With their playoff lives at stake, the Philadelphia Flyers handed the red-hot Detroit Red Wings their first regulation loss in nearly a month, skating off the Wachovia Center ice with a 4-3 victory in Sunday's nationally-televised NBC NHL Game of the Week.
After giving away a 2-0 first-period lead, Claude Giroux's goal in the first minute of the second period broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Flyers just their third win in their last 10 games. Arron Asham added what held up as the game-winner with 2:24 left in the second.
"We all know what's at stake right now," Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo said. "We need to win out to get in. We knew it was a huge game. It's a really good team over there and I thought everyone battled really hard and took the body and maybe frustrated them a little bit."
The Flyers remained eighth in the Eastern Conference with 84 points, two ahead of the ninth-place Rangers and the same as seventh-place Boston. Philadelphia plays at Toronto on Tuesday and closes the season with a home-and-home set with the Rangers.
Kimmo Timonen had a goal and an assist and Ian Laperriere had a pair of assists for the Flyers. Goalie Brian Boucher played his best in the third, stopping all 10 shots Detroit had after Pavel Datsyuk's goal early in the period made it a one-goal game. He finished with 31 saves.
The Red Wings, who got a goal and an assist from Dan Cleary, wasted a chance to clinch their 19th straight playoff berth. Their loss also allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Central Division, their first division title since they won the Norris Division in 1993.
Chris Osgood, making his first start since Jan. 27, stopped 25 of 29 shots.
"I thought we left him out to dry on a couple chances," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "They're coming down on a four-on-two, one of the chances the puck squirted out on their stick. I thought we could have done a better job helping him out. … Leaving him on some of the chances they got, that's not what you want to do in front of a goalie that hasn't played in a while."
The Flyers came in off a pair of losses that had dropped them from sixth to eighth in the conference, but coach Peter Laviolette said he saw enough effort in Friday's 1-0 loss to the Canadiens that he felt confident coming into Sunday's matinee.
"Everybody left last game knowing that if we play that way we were going to win hockey games," he said. "I don't think that was ever in question, that wasn't in doubt. But then you actually have to go out and play that way again. The points have to come your way and the win has to come your way, and it did today. You get the reward for the effort. Last game I don't think we got the reward, (but) I liked the effort."
The hard work started on the game's first shift, when Laperriere forced a Detroit turnover at center ice. Carcillo, in his first game back after serving a two-game suspension, skated in alone on Osgood and beat him with a shot from the dot in the left faceoff circle.
Moments later, Timonen finished a four-on-two rush when he cashed in a nice centering pass from Laperriere at 7:16.
"We turned the puck over the first shift, they scored on the first shot, and then on a line change a guy that came on kind of dove in to give them a four-on-two," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "That was a tough way to go, but I thought we did a lot of good things."
The Wings evened the score in a 2:15 span late in the first on goals by Cleary and Darren Helm, both on bouncing pucks in front that Boucher couldn't stop.
The Flyers could have crumbled at that point, but Giroux's goal 53 seconds into the second was the spark that ignited the team for remainder of the game.
Lukas Krajicek carried the puck deep into the Detroit end and threw a shot in front from right wall. The puck bounced off Rafalski's stick and into the slot, where Giroux slammed home his 15th of the season, giving the Flyers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"The first eight minutes of that first period we played very well," Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said. "For whatever reason, we let off the gas pedal a little bit. They're a team that can capitalize quickly -- couple breaks, couple bounces they were able to do that. It's a credit to the ability of our guys to re-charge, re-focus between periods, come out and get that quick goal to set everybody at ease and get that confidence back on the bench and on the ice. It was very important for us to not fall behind after getting up 2-0."
Asham made it 4-2 at 17:36 of the second, with a play started by former Red Wing Ville Leino.
Datsyuk made it a one-goal game 2:22 into the third, but the Flyers' tightened defensively, aggressively blocking shots and effectively clearing pucks at opportune times.
"Everyone was going down, trying to block shots, and we were physical on the good players," Laperriere said. "That's what it takes at this time of the year to win games."