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Flyers outlast Penguins; Letang injured

by Adam Kimelman /

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers never have had a problem ramping up their effort against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's finding that same level against the rest of the NHL that has been an issue.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored a power-play goal with 1:03 remaining in overtime to give the Flyers a 3-2 win against the Penguins at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.

Penguins goaltender Thomas Greiss stopped a shot by Jakub Voracek but left the rebound loose. Giroux reached into the pile and scored.

"I think we need to find some motivation to play like that every game, every night," Giroux said. "It's not an easy thing to do but we need to find a way to do that."

Luke Schenn and Chris VandeVelde scored for the Flyers (19-22-7). Goalie Ray Emery made 33 saves, including 17 in the first period.

Chris Kunitz and Beau Bennett scored for the Penguins (26-12-7), and Greiss made 37 saves.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang left the game in the first period because of an undisclosed injury sustained on a hit by Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo. Penguins coach Mike Johnston said he would have more information on Letang on Wednesday, when the Penguins play at home against the Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

The Flyers skated most of overtime on the power play after a cross-checking penalty on Zach Sill at the buzzer to end the third period and a bench minor on the Penguins for too many men on the ice at 2:04 of OT.

Philadelphia, which has the best home power play in the NHL, finally scored on its sixth man-advantage of the game.

It was a level the Flyers have lacked for most of the season, and one reason they're 11 points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's hard to play this way for every game for 82 games," Voracek said. "It was a very emotional game. It was a battle for 60, 64 minutes. Obviously. if that's the way we're going to win the games, we have to play like that every game. ... Sometimes you have teams where they don't fight or don't hit as much as [the Penguins]. Sometimes you have to find a different way to win the games. I don't know why it's like that against the Penguins every time."

The Flyers gained momentum Tuesday from their penalty kill. They entered the game with the NHL's 30th-ranked penalty kill but had their best man-down game of the season, killing all six Penguins power plays.

That included the five-minute major assessed to Rinaldo late in the first period for the hit on Letang that carried over into the first 36 seconds of the second. The Flyers allowed four shots on the major and eight shots on the power play.

"We did a great job controlling the front of the net, not allowing the second chances, not giving up any seam passes," Emery said. "We kept them to the outside, made clears when we had time to clear the puck. Kept it pretty simple as far as controlling those seams, controlling the front of the net. Anytime you do that you give yourself a good chance to kill penalties."

The Penguins, who were 5-for-11 on the man-advantage in their previous four games, saw special teams as a missed opportunity. Losing Letang, the quarterback on the top unit, obviously hurt, but Paul Martin replaced him with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, David Perron and Chris Kunitz.

"We've had to play without [Letang] for extended periods of time," Crosby said. "We don't want to use that as an excuse. He's obviously very good for us, but with the skill we have we should make them pay for that."

The Penguins carried play at the start, outshooting the Flyers 17-3 in the first period but trailed 1-0 on Schenn's floater from the point through traffic that came off a Bennett turnover.

Kunitz's shorthanded goal at 2:59 of the second tied the game 1-1. He led a 2-on-1 rush with Crosby joining late. Voracek and Mark Streit drifted toward Crosby, allowing Kunitz an open look from the left faceoff dot, and he beat Emery to the short side, over the blocker, for his 14th of the season.

It was the only goal in a second period when the teams combined for four fights and 66 penalty minutes.

Bennett put the Penguins ahead at 2:01 of the third, but VandeVelde tipped a Michael Del Zotto shot past Greiss at 4:02 to tie the game 2-2.

After a rough start to the season, the Flyers were happy to head into the All-Star break with some good feelings.

"Everyone is excited to go on a high note into the break," Schenn said. "After a game like that you need a couple days off to regroup. Obviously a lot of frustration and anger had built up over the way we've been paying. Good to see that we've gone through a lot lately and the guys have stuck together."

The Penguins will have to do the same heading into their game against the Blackhawks on Wednesday, their final one before the break. The 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game is Sunday in Columbus (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We want some momentum heading into the All-Star break," Johnston said. "So we've got to regroup, recover and get ready for a tough team in Chicago tomorrow."


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