PITTSBURGH -- Jakub Voracek got his first NHL hat trick.
Wayne Simmonds had a Gordie Howe hat trick -- a goal (two actually), an assist and a fight.
And North America got yet another wild, emotionally-taxing 6-5 Flyers' victory over the Penguins on Wednesday night at CONSOL Energy Center that seemed to resemble last year’s playoffs.
“The first two [games] -- even the games in our building,” coach Peter Laviolette said, “it carries a lot of emotion and a lot of energy. Great games for the players, the fans, for everybody. Good playoff-type atmosphere.”
This time, the Flyers took the seven goals and achievements against the Islanders and made them count for something the next time out.
Recall the Flyers routed Florida 7-1 in January, then got pasted the next night in Tampa.
“I couldn’t tell you what happened in this game, so many things happened,” said a drained Claude Giroux.
“Up and down. I don’t know if it’s fun to watch but it’s fun to play.”
Twice the Flyers had a two-goal lead in the final period and lost it, thanks primarily to a series of penalties that gave the Pens a continual 5-on-3 power play -- the most lethal in the Eastern Conference.
Ilya Bryzgalov took a 3-2 lead into that stanza and then Voracek gave him some breathing room at 18 seconds with his second goal.
Five minutes later, Tyler Kennedy made it a nail-biter until Simmonds led a rush up ice, shot it and it tipped off James Neal’s stick to regain the two-goal lead.
That should have been it -- 5-3 -- but consecutive penalties, including a four-minute high-sticking penalty to Mike Knuble gave the Penguins a 5-on-3 power play for a full two minutes.
Evgeni Malkin scored once, making it 5-4. Then, Max Talbot went off for a closed hand on the puck, keeping the 5-on-3 alive.
“It’s a new rule this year -- the puck was under me and I tried to put it out of there and on our first goal it kind of happened the same thing around their net,” Talbot said.
“But things happen fast. The crowd is screaming. These are calls people make and sometimes they won’t. I was obviously frustrated, but guys did a good job killing them.
“Usually, I’m on the ice. It was more stressful sitting in the penalty box. ... Our guys stepped up and did a great job killing the penalties.”
Pittsburgh appeared to have tied it again with 5:39 left to play, but the play was overturned for kicking the puck in the net, setting up a frantic finish.
Didn’t matter. Brandon Sutter tied it with a wraparound with 2:03 left to play.
That set up Voracek’s heroics with 1:31 left from an impossible angle in the right corner.
“Sometimes the bounces go in and sometimes it doesn’t,” he said. “It’s been a while. I think the last time I scored a hat trick was Triple-A back home, I can’t remember. It’s been a while.
“I got smothered by [Brooks] Orpik in the corner there. The puck came to me and I didn’t want to do something stupid with the puck, so I threw it on net. Tough angle for the goalie [Tomas Vokoun].”
The first period was reminiscent of last spring’s Game 1 playoff meeting against the Penguins here when the Flyers spotted Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.
Danny Briere brought them back to 3-2 by the second period in what would become a 4-3 overtime win for the Flyers.
For all the talk the Flyers had about the momentum generated off their 7-0 rout of the Islanders, they came out lethargic.
Which is why coach Laviolette used his timeout 5:07 into the game. It was already 1-0 at that point on Matt Niskanen’s 56-footer.
“They came out hard and we were just lax everywhere, to be honest,” Laviolette said. “Faceoffs, forecheck, puck battles. We needed to wake up a bit.”
Harry Zolnierczyk picked up a boarding call behind the Pens' net, then got slammed to ice by Pens defenseman Deryk Engelland without a return call.
The resulting power play saw Malkin score twice. His first attempt, on review, was ruled no goal with Bryzgalov gloving the puck inside the right post.
His second attempt saw him at the same post alone -- no Luke Schenn -- as a puck rebounded off the boards for an easy 2-0 lead at 7:15.
That ended the Flyers' successful string of 21 consecutive penalty kills. By the way: Malkin stretched his league lead to 13 power-play points in this one.
Pittsburgh has the second-best power play in the NHL -- 27.4 percent.
“You can’t give them much space on the power play because they can counter on it,” Voracek said. “They have solid players over there.”
Midway into the period, the Pens were outshooting the Flyers, 12-2. By the period’s end, however, it was 15-13 in the Flyers' favor as they mounted a stunning comeback with two goals just one minute apart.
The Flyers' first goal came off a bizarre scrum at the net with the Flyers having a half-dozen attempts -- only two actual shots -- and Kris Letang pinned inside the net.
At one point, it appeared the puck crossed the line and Letang swiped it back out. When he did that, Nick Grossmann popped it back in at 11:49.
A minute later, Briere fed Simmonds, who rushed the net from the left boards to make it a 2-2 game.
That forced Penguins coach Dan Bylsma to burn his timeout.
“Kimmo made a great play there on the blue line as he always does,” Simmonds said. “I yelled for Danny as he was about to shoot it. He found me down low and I just kind of walked the puck to the net.”
Incidentally, Simmonds and Tanner Glass would tangle soon after in what might have been the best fight of the season involving a Flyer.
“[Glass] was coming after Schenner [Brayden Schenn],” Simmonds said. “I thought Schenner made a solid hit there [on Matt Cooke]. Obviously, the refs didn’t like it.
“Two guys went after Schenner and I stepped in there and the two of us ended up fighting. But, it's all in the spirit of the game.”
The second period was one of continual hits and a few scoring chances with the game remaining tied until the final 1:32 when Craig Adams elbowed Voracek, giving the Flyers a power play.
Voracek, who had a career-high four assists against the Islanders on Monday, had three shots on Vokoun during that power play, connecting off a Simmonds' shot finally for his first goal in six games as the Flyers led for the first time, 3-2, with 9.9 seconds left in the period.
“Every time we play Pittsburgh it’s a big battle,” Giroux said. “We had a tough start there, came out flat but we found a way to get those goals back.”
PITTSBURGH -- Jakub Voracek got his first NHL hat trick.