PHILADELPHIA - Down three goals and facing an inspired opponent in a hostile building, the Pittsburgh Penguins easily could've settled for going back home to play Game 7.
Instead, Sergei Gonchar and Sidney Crosby helped the Penguins stage a remarkable comeback to advance to the next round.
Gonchar scored 2:19 into the third period and the Penguins eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers with a 5-3 victory Saturday in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
The Penguins, who beat the Flyers in the conference final last year, have to wait to find out who they'll play next.
Meanwhile, the Flyers have to wait another year to pursue their first Stanley Cup championship since 1975.
Crosby scored the tying goal in the second period and an empty-netter in the final minute, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mark Eaton also had goals and Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves.
Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul scored 51 seconds apart late in the first period and Daniel Briere had a power-play goal for the Flyers.
After the Penguins scored three straight goals to tie it in the second, Gonchar quickly put them ahead in the third. He ripped a slap shot past Martin Biron for his first goal of the series.
The Flyers had a chance to tie it several minutes later, but Claude Giroux hit the crossbar on a hard slap shot.
Philadelphia stayed alive with a 3-0 victory in Pittsburgh on Thursday night. But the Flyers couldn't protect a 3-0 lead at home. They're 0-14 in series after trailing 3-1, and haven't forced a Game 7 since losing to Edmonton in the 1987 Stanley Cup finals.
With everything seemingly going Philadelphia's way, the Penguins scored two quick goals less than two minutes apart to get within 3-2. Fedotenko put in a rebound off a wraparound shot by Evgeni Malkin for Pittsburgh's first goal. With Biron sprawled face-down on the ice, Fedotenko slid the puck underneath the goalie's pad.
Eaton then swatted the puck into the net out of the air after Tyler Kennedy's slap shot hit off Biron and bounced up.
Crosby scored a similar goal to tie it 3-3 with 3:01 left in the second. Bill Guerin flicked a shot toward the net from the corner that popped out of Biron's glove right to Crosby, who knocked it in midair.
Backed by a raucous crowd wearing giveaway T-shirts that turned the Wachovia Center into a sea of orange, the fired-up Flyers came out with plenty of energy. They outhit, outshot and, more importantly, outscored the Penguins 2-0 in the first period.
Mike Richards set up Philadelphia's first goal with an excellent individual effort in Pittsburgh's zone. Richards stripped Maxime Talbot, kicked the puck to himself and went in alone against Fleury, who made the save. But the rebound trickled out in front and Knuble lifted a backhand over Fleury's shoulder to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
The public address announcer hadn't finished giving details of Knuble's goal when Lupul scored to make it 2-0. Giroux skated with the puck down the left side and sent a perfect, cross-ice pass to a streaking Lupul, who fired a shot past Fleury's glove side for his first goal of the series.
Briere's power-play goal made it 3-0 in the second period. Just 21 seconds after Crosby went to the penalty box for slashing, Briere played give-and-go with Simon Gagne. Briere skated up ice, split the middle and sent a pass to Gagne, who fed it right back. Briere beat Fleury with a shot to the glove side.
No doubt Crosby heard more derisive chants in the brief time he spent in the box. Fans gave the superstar centre an earful every chance they had. Crosby silenced them with his tying goal.
Daniel Carcillo gave the revved-up fans even more reason to cheer when he squared off against Talbot early in the second. Carcillo sent Talbot to the ice with a couple hard rights and the Flyers' bench and crowd went wild.
Perhaps that served as a wake-up call for the Penguins, however. They controlled the game the rest of the way.
Notes: The Penguins improved to 14-15 against Philadelphia in the playoffs. ... The Flyers fell to 24-31 in elimination games and 3-6 in Game 6s at home. ... Lauren Hart sang "God Bless America," alternating lyrics with longtime good-luck charm Kate Smith. The entire performance was on the video screen because Hart was in Ethiopia with her husband for the adoption of a child.