PHILADELPHIA -- It was a game that meant everything to the Philadelphia Flyers and almost nothing to the Minnesota Wild.
The Flyers went into the game in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, having collected only three of a possible 12 points in their last six games. The Wild are buried in 12th place in the Western Conference, their chances off a playoff spot long gone. The Wild are also the NHL's second-worst team on the road.
In keeping with the way things have been going for the Flyers lately, the Wild won -- in overtime, after the Flyers blew a two-goal lead in the third period for their fourth-straight loss.
The Flyers had a 35-21 shot advantage, but blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads.
Kyle Brodziak scored the game-winner at 2:38 of overtime when his 37-foot shot bounced high in the air off Flyers goalie Brian Boucher, descended onto Boucher's back and rolled into the net.
"It's very disappointing," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "You're talking about segments within a game. The scoring chances were heavily lopsided. There were lapses, lapses that cost us the game."
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said other divisional rivals are getting better as the Stanley Cup Playoffs approach, "but we seem like we're going in the opposite direction."
While the Flyers were understandably critical of themselves, Wild right wing Martin Havlat, who started the third-period comeback, delivered a devastating analysis.
"We didn’t start well, but the second period we played much better," he said. "They kind of stopped playing after they got the lead, so I think it was great, and good for us and we kind of got back into the game and battled hard until the end.”
Boucher made 17 saves and slipped to 1-4-1 since replacing Michael Leighton as the Flyers' No. 1 goalie on March 16. Leighton is out 8-to-10 weeks with an ankle injury. The Flyers have captured only four of a possible 14 points in that time.
Once again, Boucher was beaten with long shots. The goals that were scored originated on shots from 56, 31, 58 and 37 feet.
The Flyers dropped to seventh in the Eastern Conference standings with 80 points, four ahead of the ninth-place Atlanta Thrashers. It was only the third time this season the Flyers have lost when leading after two periods.
“When you have a lead going in the third, especially a two-goal lead, I mean those are the wins you expect to have," Boucher said. "It's obviously disappointing not to get two points. There’s not much more to say. I mean it’s a game that we would like to have two points and we didn’t get it and hopefully we could get it next game.”
Brodziak's goal came about 10 minutes after a big check by Danny Carcillo that the Wild thought fell within the new rule banning blind-side shots to the head.
"We just watched the video and it was a blind-side hit and it looked like he [Carcillo] was coming up high,” Wild coach Todd Richards said. "He got him up around the head.”
"I gotta go back and look at the hit, but it almost seemed like exactly the video we just watched of getting hit by the side," Brodziak said. "It just kind of felt like, I blacked out for a half a second or a second and just had that buzzing in my head, but I remember everything, so I don’t think it’s anything to be too concerned about."
Flyers rookie defenseman Oskars Bartulis scored his first NHL goal at 3:39 when the rebound of an Ian Laperriere shot went off his skate and into the net. After a review, it was determined that Bartulis did not try to direct the puck with his foot and the goal stood.
Just 39 seconds later, Simon Gagne stole a clearing pass near the blue line, carried to the right boards and fired a shot past Niklas Backstrom's left side for a 2-0 lead.
Richards called timeout to settle his team. The move worked. While the Wild couldn't muster much offense, they were able to keep the Flyers scoreless for the rest of the first period.
“All I said was ‘We play five minutes and we have lots of hockey left, just regroup. We know how to play the game, just focus on that,’” Richards said.
Marek Zidlicky drew the Wild to within 2-1 at 34 seconds of the second period with a 56-foot slap shot off a pass from Antti Miettinen.
The Flyers got the goal back at 11:11 of the second period when Carcillo forced a turnover in the offensive zone. The puck bounced to Scott Hartnell, who passed back to Carcillo. He chipped it over Backstrom's left shoulder.
But the Flyers couldn't hold the lead. Havlat one-timed Guillaume Latendresse's pass past Boucher at 6:37 of the third period.
"It was a great team effort tonight and a good battle," Havlat said. "We didn’t have a great start, but we battled until the last second and it was great to get the win tonight.”
The Wild tied the game when Flyers center Danny Briere and Wild forward Andrew Brunette tipped John Scott's shot from the blue line past Boucher at 13:23 of the third period. Although the goal was originally credited to Scott, it was later changed to Brunette.
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