PHILADELPHIA – You know how there’s always that one Easter egg hidden that you just can’t find?
Well, it was at the Wells Fargo Center.
As they often do when they play one another, the Flyers and the Washington Capitals provided fans with candy for the eyes.
The Caps took an early lead, the Flyers vaulted ahead, Washington returned the favor and took a two-goal lead. The Flyers responded by tying the score in the final seconds and then winning 5-4 in overtime.
Oh, and they kept their season alive to boot.
Claude Giroux led the charge with a third period rooted in determination, Kimmo Timonen was his trusty sidekick, scoring the tying goal with 9.5 seconds remaining and then picking up the primary assist on the game-winner by Ruslan Fedotenko, finishing with four points in the game, his fifth career four-point game and first since October, 2011.
“To come back from that it’s a great game to have as a team,” Giroux said. Jake (Voracek) dropping the gloves, you don’t see that every day. He’s just a great teammate and a great linemate. I think everyone in the room is lucky to have him as a teammate. He cares a lot for this team so that kind of got everyone going.”
Voracek got into his first NHL fight in the third period with Steve Olesky after Olesky hit Giroux with an open ice check. Voracek did well in the fight, but cost himself 19 minutes in penalties and put the Flyers down a man for four minutes as he was assessed minors for instigation as well as fighting with a visor.
Washington took advantage and scored twice with the extra man, the go-ahead goal – scored by Marcus Johansson when he intercepted a clearing attempt by Giroux.
The Flyers captain lay prone on the ice, mad at himself for not clearing the puck and equally determined from that point forward to will the Flyers to an improbable victory.
“He is one of those guys who wants to make a difference,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “I like the fact that he goes on the ice and asserts himself the way he does when you need to turn the game into a different direction.
“I like the way we were playing at 2-2; I liked everything minus the first five or six minutes of the game. I even liked the way we were playing at 4-2. The guys kept coming and coming; I think that has to start with your leadership and certainly Claude is grabbing that role along with Kimmo. They really made sure we kept rolling and pushing.”
Down 4-2, Giroux scored a power play goal on a one-timer from the left circle and then had the primary assist on Timonen’s tying goal – a slapper from the point – that came at the end of an incredibly determined shift that may have saved the season.
“[Giroux] played really well at the end,” Timonen said. “When he plays like that, with that kind of fire, he has a lot of energy. Then he scored and I kind of had the feeling we had a chance to come back there.
“I really do feel like we were the better team. They obviously got two power play goals , but, like I said, I’m really proud of what Jake (Voracek) did there. It was his first fight, and it was a good one. What you do for teammates, in situations like that… I’m proud of him.”
The Flyers had all the momentum at that point and took it into the overtime period. With Washington sending Alex Ovechkin onto the ice, Laviolette countered with his defensive forwards going with Fedotenko and Sean Couturier.
Instead, he got offense from them.
Fedotenko played a game of give-and-go with Timonen and scored the game-winner, send the crowd into a frenzy.
“It’s important, every win, every point right now is crucial,” Fedotenko said. “We are fighting for the playoffs. There are a lot of teams that are fighting for playoffs. I feel like it’s very important. Again, the way we did it last night and today, now it’s over. We need to focus on the next game and make sure we get the next two points.”
That’s because the Flyers made their way back into the playoff race and now sit two points out of a playoff spot with 13 games remaining.
“Playing with confidence is huge,” said Matt Read, who scored a breakaway goal to givbe the Flyers a 2-1 lead. “It's something I think we've been lacking all year. I thought this weekend was a good weekend for all of us.
“There are a lot of families in town and you can kind of get away off the ice. You come in the locker room and you're just having a little bit more fun. The confidence showed on and off the ice. The result is getting two points in both games this weekend. So hopefully we can keep having fun in this locker room, find ways to win hockey games, and make a run for a top eight position."
Max Talbot, who scored the Flyers first goal, left the game in the second period with a lower body injury and never returned.
Talbot appeared to bang knees with Washington defenseman Mike Green while making a check in the corner. Talbot couldn’t put any weight on his leg and had to be carried off the ice and down the tunnel by trainers.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter, @AnthonySan37