Scott Hartnell scored two goals, including the second with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime, as the Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 2-0 deficit after two periods to cap a furious comeback in a 3-2 thriller over the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers' triumph snapped the Penguins 11-game winning streak, and pulled them within two points of their cross-state rivals for second place in the Atlantic Division. Philly is now 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
It was a tremendous opportunity for the Pens to take over the top spot in the Eastern Conference, as a win would have propelled them ahead of the New York Rangers for first place in the East. They now sit just one point back of Broadway.
Pittsburgh dominated play from the opening faceoff and grabbed a lead at the 13:21 mark, when Craig Adams got his stick on a Kris Letang point shot, redirecting it past starter Ilya Bryzgalov for his fifth goal of the season to give the Pens a 1-0 lead.
The Penguins outshot Philadelphia in the opening period by a 17-8 margin, and forechecked the Flyers into submission in the second frame. Pittsburgh held Philly to just two shots during the middle stanza while firing 10 of their own at Bryzgalov.
NHL leading scorer Evgeni Malkin increased the visitors' lead when he carried the puck out of the right wing corner with Claude Giroux on his trail, cut across the front of the crease ahead of Braydon Coburn, then tucked the puck around Bryzgalov for his 41st goal of the season with just 53 seconds left in the period.
With a shots on goal differential of 27-10 at the second intermission, and a 25-0-2 record when leading after two periods of play, the Pens appeared to have the game all but locked up with the 2-0 lead heading into the third.
But with Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek still serving 1:30 of a minor he took late in the second period, defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who was celebrating his 37th birthday, sent a blue line blast past Marc-Andre Fleury for his third goal of the year just 31 seconds into the frame to pull the home team back to within one at 2-1.
Just over four minutes later, the Flyers tied the game with a gorgeous passing play. Wayne Simmonds held the puck at the right hash mark and hit Giroux in the slot, who then sent a pass to Hartnell at the goal line to the left of Fleury. Hartnell controlled the puck, then roofed a shot off the water bottle for his 34th goal of the season and knot the score at 2-2.
Both goaltenders were tested through the rest of regulation time, but neither would break.
As the overtime period would down, it appeared the clubs were headed for a shootout. With less than 10 seconds remaining in the extra stanza, Danny Briere carried the puck into the Pittsburgh zone and spotted Hartnell cutting into the slot. Briere hit him, and Hartnell made no mistake from the high slot. Hartnell's 35th of the year entered the net with just 0.9 seconds left on the clock, and gave the Flyers a hard-fought two points.
Hartnell said it was a nice play by Briere, who has been contributing offensively even though he's been struggling to score goals this season.
"The overtime goal was a great pass to me," said of Briere's set up. "Coburn did a good job of letting it go through his stick and I was able to get it and shoot it quick. I know that the time was about to expire. A guy like him has to work hard to get his breaks. Right now he has been really working his tail off. It is good to see a guy like that I think is gripping his stick tight to work hard."
Giroux had two assists on the afternoon, lifting him past Vancouver's Henrik Sedin into the NHL-lead for helpers with 58. Giroux is also now tied for second in points with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos with 84 points each, just four behind Malkin.
Bryzgalov finished the game with 38 saves to win his 30th game of the season, improving his record to 30-13-7.
Fleury made 24 saves in the defeat and dropped to 39-14-4.