PHILADELPHIA – Down one man and then two, the Pittsburgh Penguins were at their best shorthanded.
Dustin Jeffrey scored a go-ahead goal 37 seconds into the third period, Matt Cooke had two goals and the Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-4 on Saturday.
Jordan Staal, Pascal Dupuis and James Neal also scored goals for the Penguins, who moved into a tie with Philadelphia for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins not only killed a 5-on-4 and a 5-on-3 on the same power play, but scored twice shorthanded to turn the game around after Jaromir Jagr’s two goals against his former team put the Flyers ahead 2-1.
“Our penalty-killing was huge,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “To come out of special teams a plus-1 with a couple shorthanded goals was a big part.”
Eric Wellwood scored his first in the NHL and Wayne Simmonds had the other goal for the Flyers.
Philadelphia lost for the sixth time in eight games and got another poor performance from goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who was benched after allowing three goals on 13 shots.
“It’s easy to find a scapegoat, to put at one guy,” Bryzgalov said. “I was frustrated with my game. I will continue to work.”
In a matchup of the league’s two top scorers, Evgeni Malkin and Claude Giroux each had one assist. Malkin has a two-point lead over Giroux.
Jeffrey put the Penguins ahead 4-3 by scoring off a rebound after a turnover by Kimmo Timonen, the Flyers’ top defenceman.
A few minutes later, Dupuis slid a shot from the left side of the net that went through the goal crease, hit Sergei Bobrovsky’s skate and went in.
Neal scored his 30th goal on a breakaway midway through the third period to make it 6-3.
“Our penalty-killing has been a huge part of our team all year,” Jeffrey said. “You don’t usually see a 5-on-3 (shorthanded) goal. It was huge for us.”
Playing his first game since turning 40, Jagr shook off the effects of a flu that forced him to miss Thursday night’s 7-2 win over Buffalo and notched his first two-goal game since Dec. 2. His goals came 18 seconds apart in the first period to put Philadelphia up 2-1.
But the Penguins answered with two goals in a span of 1:43 in the second period. Staal broke in and ripped a slap shot through a screen over Bryzgalov’s glove to tie it 2-2.
Then, with two Penguins in the penalty box, Cooke avoided Timonen’s hook and scored on a breakaway to send Bryzgalov to the bench.
Bobrovsky replaced Bryzgalov, who skated off the ice to a chorus of boos. Bryzgalov has been a big disappointment since the Flyers acquired him from Phoenix and gave him a US$51 million, nine-year contract last summer.
“We can be better in a lot of different areas and (goaltending) is one of them,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said.
Wellwood, playing in his seventh NHL game, tied it at 3 by capitalizing on Deryk Engelland’s turnover. Engelland slipped and lost the puck in front of the net, allowing Wellwood to stuff it past Marc-Andre Fleury.
That gave the Flyers some momentum going into the second intermission only to have Pittsburgh take it away early in the third period.
“They scored right after to give momentum right back, so I don’t think it had that much affect on them,” Cooke said of his team’s shorthanded goals.
Jagr established himself as one of the greatest players in hockey history during his first 11 seasons in the NHL with the Penguins. He won an MVP award and two Stanley Cup titles before leaving Pittsburgh after the 2000-01 season.
Jagr showed off the skills that made him a nine-time All-Star with vintage goals from nearly the same spot in the left face-off circle. First, he took a pass from Danny Briere near the Flyers blue line, skated down the right side, stopped, and fired a shot past Fleury.
The next one came on the power play. Jagr held the puck, looked at Scott Hartnell in front of the next and ripped a top-shelf goal to make it 2-1.
Cooke picked up a loose puck in the Flyers’ zone, skated down the left side, eluded Jagr’s swipe from behind and fired a slap shot past Bryzgalov for a 1-0 lead 3:17 in.
Notes: Jagr now has 661 goals, seven shy of tying Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille for 10th on the all-time list. He had just one goal in his previous 16 games. … Engelland flattened Giroux with a hard, clean check in the first period, drawing loud boos from the crowd. … F James van Riemsdyk returned for Philadelphia after missing 15 games because of a concussion. … Simmonds, who needed 25 stitches to his lower and upper lips after getting hit with a puck in warmups Thursday, wore a smaller face shield instead of the full protective mask he had on when he scored two goals against Buffalo. … Jagr has 20 goals and 19 assists for 39 points in 38 career games vs. the Penguins.