PITTSBURGH -- In one of the more exciting games of the NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers overcame an early two-goal deficit, thanks to a Jakub Voracek hat trick, to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-5 in a whacky game on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
The game featured 11 goals, two disallowed goals and, predictably, a laundry list of penalties.
"It was a fun game to play, said Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux.
The Penguins took a quick 2-0 lead thanks to even-strength and power-play goals from Matt Niskanen and Evgeni Malkin, respectively.
"They're in their building, they came out hard, said Flyers' head coach Peter Laviolette. "We were just lax everywhere, to be honest with you."
Niskanen fired a one-timer from the point past Ilya Bryzgalov's blocker side at 5:07 of the first and Malkin took a rebound off the back boards and deposited it over a sprawled out Bryzgalov at 7:15 to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.
"After we go up two they start running around a bit, it's the same old story with getting into what they like to do after the whistle," Pittsburgh winger James Neal said. "We can't get dragged into that."
The Flyers got one back in an almost comical sequence of events where Pittsburgh netminder Tomas Vokoun found himself far from his crease. Defenseman Kris Letang tried to cover for him, as did all four of the other Penguins on the ice, yet Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossman was still able to lift the puck over the mass of bodies in the crease to cut the Penguins lead to one at 11:49 of the first.
Exactly one minute later, Wayne Simmonds skated in untouched and pushed the puck past Vokoun to tie the game at 2-2. Both teams had nine shots in the second, but only one of them went in. That happened with just 10 seconds left in the period when Voracek wristed a rebound over a diving Vokoun for a power play marker that gave the Flyers their first lead of the night.
The Flyers wasted no time getting on the board in the third, as just 18 seconds in Voracek struck again putting the puck into a wide-open net as Vokoun again found himself far from his crease.
"It was a weird game, said Vokoun. No puck luck for me today but you can't make that an excuse."
Tyler Kennedy pulled the Penguins to within one when he wristed one through Bryzgalov at 5:29 of the third, but Philadelphia countered when Simmonds tipped a pass over the shoulder of Vokoun at 7:36 for his second goal of the game.
Not to be outdone, the Penguins got the next two tallies thanks to a Neal five-on-three goal and a Brandon Sutter wrap-around shot at 17:57. However, the Flyers were not phased as Voracek completed the hat trick at 18:29 of the third by banking the puck in off the backside of Vokoun for the game-winner.
"I didn't want to turn it over or do something stupid with the puck, so I just tried to throwing it at the net and, you know, it's always a tough angle for the goalies," Voracek said.
Overshadowed by the Voracek hat trick was Simmonds' two-goal, one assist, one fight night, otherwise known as the Gordie Howe hat trick.
When asked about his night, he downplayed it, saying "It's obviously nice, but it's nicer, a lot nicer, to get the two points."
NOTES: Wednesday's game marked the end of a six-game road trip for the Flyers. ... Penguins' C Evgeni Malkin now has points in 11 consecutive regular season games against the Flyers (6G-9A-15PTS). ... G Ilya Bryzgalov has started in all but two of the Flyers' 18 games this season. ... C Dustin Jeffrey, LW Zach Boychuk and D Simon Despres were scratched for the Penguins, while LW Tom Sestito, F Tye McGinn and D Kurtis Foster were scratched for the Flyers. ... The next opponent for both teams will be the Florida Panthers. The Flyers host the Panthers on Thursday to begin a five-game homestand. The Panthers will then travel across the Keystone State to visit the Penguins on Friday.