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Voracek's hat trick gives Flyers wild win over Pens

by Chris Adamski

PITTSBURGH -- It was a 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals replay for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.

Just like their Stanley Cup Playoff series in April, the Atlantic Division rivals played up-and-down hockey. They again combined to score lots of goals. They again played with excessive emotion and obvious disdain for each other.

And they again proved that no Penguins lead is safe against the Flyers.

Jakub Voracek finished off a hat trick with 1:31 left in regulation to lift Philadelphia to a wild 6-5 victory over Pittsburgh.

It marked the fifth time -- counting playoffs -- since March 18 of last season the Flyers erased a two-goal deficit to beat the rival Penguins. On four of those occasions, Pittsburgh had a lead of at least 2-0 during the first period, including Games 1 and 2 of the postseason in April.

"Just these games themselves carry a lot of emotion and a lot of energy," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "Great game for the players, for the fans, everybody. It was a good playoff-type atmosphere, playoff-type hockey."

Voracek's third goal came when he fended off Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik behind the net to the left of Tomas Vokoun, then banked the puck into the net off the goaltender.

The goal, Voracek's sixth of the season, came 32 seconds after Brandon Sutter capped Pittsburgh's two-goal rally to tie the game after Philadelphia had erased an earlier 2-0 deficit.

"Never know what's going to happen -- it's always up and down when we play Pittsburgh," said Flyers wing Wayne Simmonds, who had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with two goals, an assist and a fight with Tanner Glass.

"It seems like it's last team that scores, wins."

Voracek's first two goals came 28 seconds apart, on each side of the second intermission. They followed goals by Niklas Grossmann and Simmonds in a stretch of four unanswered by Philadelphia, which has won two consecutive to salvage a split of a season-long six-game road trip.

Claude Giroux had two assists for the Flyers, who were coming off a 7-0 win at the New York Islanders on Monday.

"Every time we play Pittsburgh, it's a big battle," Giroux said. "We came out pretty flat and found a way to get those goals back.

"I don't know if it was fun to watch, but it was a fun game to play."

Philadelphia improved to 6-1 at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins' only regular-season win against the Flyers here was April 7, 2012 -- the meaningless regular-season finale when the teams were locked into their Stanley Cup Playoff seeds.

Four days after that, the Penguins held a 3-0 lead after one period of the first-round series but ended up losing, 4-3, on Voracek's overtime goal. Two days later, Pittsburgh scored the first two goals in Game 2 -- but again, Philadelphia rallied to win 8-5 and would eventually take the best-of-7 series, 4-2.

A similar script played out Wednesday when Pittsburgh lost for the fourth time in seven home games this season. The Penguins, who are 8-2-0 on the road, began a stretch of three home games in five days.

"We got too emotional in the game, too involved with the extracurriculars ... and it took away from our game," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "That was something they needed, something they got involved in and got energy going their way.

"It was clearly something we knew going into the game, something they needed, a tactic they were going to use. And we got too involved with the emotions of the game between the whistles and worrying about the perpetrators of it."

Holding a 5-3 lead with nine minutes to play, the Flyers limited the Penguins to a James Neal goal over a span of 2:29 of 5-on-3 time after penalties were called on Mike Knuble, Ruslan Fedotenko and Max Talbot. Pittsburgh played with at least one extra man for 4:16 in an attempt to tie the game but was limited to the one goal.

"We came back strong, fought to the end to win that game," Neal said. "Just a tough one."

Chris Kunitz appeared to have tied it with 5:39 left but video review ruled he kicked the puck into the net. Pittsburgh's 261st consecutive sellout crowd booed when that was announced -- but it became moot when Sutter tied it on a wraparound goal with 2:03 to play.

Voracek closed out the scoring in an end-to-end game reminiscent of the playoff series last spring in which 56 goals were scored in six games.

"That was just a typical Flyers-Penguins game," Neal said. "It's just one of those things where you get caught up in the pace of the game and go back and forth."

Philadelphia trailed 2-0 7:15 into the game on goals by Matt Niskanen and Evgeni Malkin, but the Flyers evened it by the end of the first period.

The Flyers took their first lead when Voracek scored a power-play goal in the closing moments of the second. He pounced on a loose puck low in the right circle and flipped it past Vokoun for his first in six games.

Philadelphia was badly outplayed in the opening minutes, with Niskanen scoring his second of the season with a shot from the point through traffic at 5:07 and Malkin adding a power-play goal 2:08 later when he collected a deflection off the end boards and quickly flipped it into the net past Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Malkin's tally marked the ninth consecutive game in which Pittsburgh recorded a power-play goal.

But the Flyers tied the game with two goals in the span of a minute, beginning their comeback with a wild goal at 11:49.

With several players in the crease or its immediate area -- and Vokoun well out of the net -- Philadelphia took at least four shots before Grossmann buried his first of the season. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang blocked at least two tries on the goal line.

The goal was the fourth in 373 career games for Grossmann, his first since Jan. 21, 2011.

Simmonds scored for the third time in his past six contests 60 seconds later. Danny Briere earned an assist, giving him five points in his past three games.

After Voracek's first two goals put Philadelphia up by a pair, Tyler Kennedy cut the Flyers' lead to 4-3 with his second of the season 5:29 into the third. But Simmonds restored the two-goal advantage when his attempted setup for Giroux hit Niskanen's stick and went past Vokoun 2:07 later.

Philadelphia lost its season goals leader, Matt Read, to an upper-body injury. He did not play after the first intermission, and general manager Paul Holmgren said Read, who has seven goals, will be re-evaluated Thursday.

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