The Pittsburgh Penguins are through to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Pens rallied from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 Saturday in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final, winning the best-of-seven series 4-2.
Pittsburgh defenceman Sergei Gonchar scored the game-winner at 2:19 of the third period as he took a drop pass from Evgeni Malkin on the rush and beat Flyers goalie Martin Biron with a bullet slap shot into the top corner.
Malkin added to his lead atop the playoff scoring standings. He had two assists on the afternoon and now has nine points overall.
Ruslan Fedotenko added a goal and an assist for the Penguins. The 30-year-old Ukrainian forward scored his first playoff goal since June 7, 2004. He had 16 goals in the regular season.
Sidney Crosby scored the game-tying goal and an empty-netter with 28 seconds left to ice the game.
"It felt good. It's not easy to play here — it's a tough building, and we've had some huge battles against these guys over the years, so it felt good to put that [empty-netter] in for sure," he told Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman.
Mark Eaton scored the other tally for Pittsburgh. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 shots for the win.
Flyers forward Daniel Briere scored a goal and added an assist in the Flyer loss. Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul scored the other Philly goals. Netminder Martin Biron stopped 31 shots in the loss.
Philadelphia had its chances to tie the game late, but Claude Giroux hit the post with eight minutes to go and Fleury stopped both Lupul and Scott Hartnell in close with less than five minutes remaining.
"I knew if I could make some saves my guys could come back, so I just tried to keep them in the game," Fleury said.
Halfway through the second period, all signs pointed to the Flyers forcing a Game 7 back in Pittsburgh.
Knuble and Lupul scored 49 seconds apart in the last two minutes of the first period, and Briere scored at 4:06 of the second to put Philadelphia up 3-0.
But a fight between Penguins defenceman Talbot and Philly enforcer Daniel Carcillo shortly after the goal seemed to spark Pittsburgh's attack, even though Talbot definitely got the worst of it.
"That was great, I think it changed the game around. It gave some spark to our team," Fleury said.
Fedotenko starts comeback
Pens forward Fedotenko scored at 4:35 to cut the lead to 3-1, as his and teammate Malkin's hard work in front of the Flyer goal ended Biron's shutout streak at almost 97 straight minutes without allowing a goal.
Pittsburgh's Eaton potted another at 6:32 to make it 3-2, and the comeback was completed by Crosby at 16:59.
The Pens captain batted a Bill Guerin centring attempt out of the air and past Biron to even the score at 3-3 heading into the third period.
Pittsburgh outshot the Flyers 28-13 in the final two periods.
The Penguins eliminated their Pennsylvania rivals from the playoffs for the second season in a row, and still haven't given up a 3-1 series lead since 1975.
2nd-round opponent undecided
Pittsburgh's second-round opponent is far from decided. The Pens could face any of the remaining NHL Eastern Conference teams in the playoffs except for the New York Rangers.
The Flyers are now 0-for-14 when attempting a comeback after trailing 3-1 in the post-season.
But Philly isn't alone: in 230 series, only 20 teams have come back from 3-1 deficits in the NHL playoffs.
The last time Philadelphia even forced a Game 7 under those circumstances was in 1987, when the Flyers lost in the finals to Edmonton.