Claude Giroux scored a goal and added an assist and Maxime Talbot scored a shorthanded goal for the game-winner, and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 37 of 39 shots as the Philadelphia Flyers held on for a 3-2 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The game was played following a ceremony to retire Flyers defenseman Mark Howe's No. 2. Howe, who was the franchise's best blueliner, also skated for the Red Wings in the final seasons of his career. Father Gordie, "Mr. Hockey", was on hand to assist Mark in raising his banner to the rafters.
It was Philadelphia's third consecutive victory, the first such streak since they posted seven straight wins from early to mid-December, and kept them two points ahead of the New Jersey Devils, who defeated the New York Rangers, for fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Detroit, who was missing forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi, goaltender Jimmy Howard, and defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, Jonathan Ericsson, and Jakub Kindl, dropped their second straight decision and remained in fourth place in the West.
The Red Wings did get off to a quick start. Henrik Zetterberg took a pass from Valtteri Filppula and skated along the right wing, then flipped a perfect backhander up over Bryzgalov's short side shoulder for his 16th goal of the season to give Detroit a 1-0 lead on the Red Wings' first shot on goal just four minutes into the game.
Philadelphia was able to even the score nearly 10 minutes later on a goal that was due to nothing more than sheer hustle. As Detroit netminder Joey MacDonald set the puck up behind the net for his defenseman to take, Jakub Voracek skated in and stole the loose puck, whirled around and sent a centering pass for Talbot in front. The puck instead hit Red Wings' rookie defender Brendan Smith's skate and caromed past MacDonald for Voracek's 12th goal of the year to tie the score at 1-1.
The Flyers took the lead in the late stages of the opening stanza, as Braydon Coburn sent Giroux on a breakaway. Philly's leading scorer cut in from the right side and made a forehand-backhand move to beat the Detroit back stop for his 24th goal of the season with 1:49 remaining to give the home team a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.
Philly would lose Voracek in the second period, after he took a viscous shot along the defensive left wing boards. The Flyers winger was looking back for the puck as he skated forward, and Kronwall led with the shoulder on one of his patented bone-crushing checks. Voracek visibly had no idea where he was or what had happened to him, and left the ice with assistance after several moments on the ice.
The home team would play with a noticeable chip on their respective shoulders after watching Voracek leave the ice with what will no doubt be determined as an "upper body injury," and it got Philadelphia into some penalty trouble.
Zac Rinaldo was handed an unsportsmanlike conduct minor when attempting to exact a bit of vigilante revenge, and Scott Hartnell was dealt a roughing minor on a hit on Doug Janik a few minutes after killing off the Rinaldo minor.
Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Giroux broke out on a partial breakaway and MacDonald made the save. But Talbot was able to retrieve the rebound and hit the back of the net for the shorthanded tally, his 18th goal of the season, to stake the Flyers to a 3-1 lead after two periods.
With the assist on the Talbot tally, Giroux established a new personal best with his 77th point of the season, one more than he posted last year.
That goal would prove paramount in Philadelphia's efforts, as Detroit poured on the pressure throughout the third frame, outshooting the Flyers by a 21-6 margin.
Bryzgalov, who had made a left-shoulder save on Johan Franzen moments earlier, would surrender a goal to the Swede at the 8:47 mark, but that would be it for the Red Wings. Franzen's 25th would provide the final score, a 3-2 victory for Philly.
The netminder needed to be very good over the last two periods, in which Detroit outshot the Flyers by a 37-14 margin.
In addition to losing Voracek to injury, Philadelphia also lost Jaromir Jagr after a Red Wing player was checked into his legs along the boards.