Philadelphia finally put a stop to the surging Pittsburgh Penguins with a 3-2 triumph on Tuesday that lifted the Flyers into first place in the Eastern Conference.
Scott Hartnell scored the go-ahead goal at 9:54 in the third period to help the Flyers (20-7-5) snap the Penguins’ 12-game winning streak and move one point ahead of Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division and the East.
Hartnell redirected a shot from team mate Chris Pronger for the power-play game-winner, Philadelphia’s fifth victory in six games.
“This was for first place — it was a big game for us,” Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher told reporters after recording 21 saves. “We know they’re a team that’s been on a roll. These are games that are not hard to get up for. This is what you play hockey for.”
Forward Evgeni Malkin scored twice for Pittsburgh on his return from a knee injury that sidelined him for four games as the Penguins twice tied the contest, his second effort coming at 3:18 in the third period.
Malkin, though, was in the penalty box for interfering when his team surrendered the deciding goal.
Claude Giroux gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead in the first period while Nikolay Zherdev put the home team ahead 2-1 with a snap shot at 12:28 in the second.
Red-hot Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s goals and points leader, recorded two assists to extend his point-scoring streak to a joint career-best 19 games, equaling the sizzling stretch he produced in 2007.
Crosby has 20 goals and 18 assists during his current run but could not prevent the Penguins (21-9-2) from losing for the first time since Nov. 15.
“You never like losing and just because we won however many we won doesn’t change that feeling, and I don’t think it ever will,” Crosby said. “You go out there and you work hard and you have an objective in mind to win a game and you don’t — so no, it’s not a good feeling.”
Pittsburgh fell five games short of the NHL-record, 17-game winning streak it established during the 1993-94 season.
In their divisional clash, the Penguins were outshot 37-23 by the Flyers and needed 34 saves from goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to stay in the contest.
MAPLE LEAFS 4, OILERS 1
In Edmonton, Toronto started their Western Canada road trip with a victory over Edmonton.
Kris Versteeg had a goal and an assist, while Dion Phaneuf, Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel also scored for the Leafs.
Jordan Eberle scored for the Oilers, who remain in last place in the Western Conference.