By Ryan Bright
PHILADELPHIA — With 4.2 seconds left in overtime, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux gained the right face-off circle. Catching the defense sagging, he snapped a sneaky wrister that beat Antti Raanta stick side, giving the Flyers the improbable 3-2 comeback win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. “We had possession of the puck with what seemed like 10 seconds left in overtime. We should be able to get the last shot or get it to a shootout.”
Giroux wasn’t even aiming.
“I knew when I went on the ice there was 15 seconds, maybe 20 seconds,” he said. “I knew there wasn’t a lot of time, so I was just trying to shoot as hard as I can to the net and didn’t really aim, to be honest. I just shot it on net.”
The Blackhawks record against the Eastern Conference drops to 16-3-6. They have not won a regular-season game in Philadelphia since Tony Amonte and Murray Craven helped the visitors defeat the Flyers on Nov. 9, 1996.
“I think we did a lot of good things tonight,” Keith said. “But definitely really frustrating the way we gave that point up.”
Taking advantage of shaky goaltending by Ray Emery and a turnover-laden start by the Flyers, Andrew Shaw opened scoring from the crease just 2:29 into the game, pushing home a rebound generated by Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp. It was Shaw’s 17th of the season.
The onslaught continued fewer than two minutes later, when Keith’s unscreened slapshot from the point slipped through the arm of Emery and trickled in for the 2-0 Blackhawks lead.
Momentum and the lead were firmly in the Blackhawks favor. Then Scott Hartnell happened.
The Flyers countered with a strange goal at 14:12 of the first, as a innocent pass from Hartnell from below the goal line banked off Marcus Kruger before slipping past Raanta. Hartnell struck again with 3:33 remaining to lock the game at two after one period.
“I don’t know if it’s finding a couple lucky bounces or that we played really well at the start and let them back in it,” Toews said. “But we weren't tough enough on them the second half of that period or the rest of the game.”
After an even and scoreless second stanza, lethargy got the best of the Blackhawks in the third. The rarely penalized club suddenly found themselves undisciplined, taking a pair of minors to begin the period.
While they were back on their heels, it was Raanta that saved the point for the Blackhawks. With 7:25 left in the third, Flyers veteran Vinny Lecavalier sprung free on a clean breakaway, but Raanta had the answer, kicking out his right pad to send the game into overtime. Raanta finished with 34 saves.
“It’s a tough ending to a pretty entertaining game,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who was denied coaching win No. 700. “We had a good second period and a good third, it was a pretty intense game.”