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Hartnell turns tide for Flyers

| Monday, March 19, 2012

PHILADELPHIA -- He once all but bragged about chomping on the gloved finger of Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. So the likelihood of Philadelphia Flyers winger Scott Hartnell winning elected office in Southwestern Pennsylvania was always a long shot.

Now he is scoring goals with his big shot, and the Penguins have a reason to loathe him beyond his customary sandpaper style and post-whistle pushes.

He scored twice Sunday, including the winner with less than a second remaining in overtime, in the Flyers' 3-2 comeback victory over the Penguins at Wells Fargo Center.

"To lose that way against that team, with him scoring," Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis said, shaking his head in disbelief and disappointment. "I don't know."

Know this: Hartnell is as good as he gives.

His 34th goal, the Flyers' second and game-tying marker yesterday, required deft touch. Hartnell bested Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on the short, stick side with a rising shot from a bad angle near the goal line.

Goal No. 35 was a whip-shot from the high slot that Fleury could not track.

By no coincidence, Hartnell's goals were set up sweetly by center Claude Giroux, who claimed the NHL lead with 59 helpers.

Also by no coincidence, a game the Penguins led 2-0 early in the third period turned on Hartnell's agitating antics.

The Flyers, who entered the final period with all of 10 shots, needed that yapping and punching to stymie a sizzling Penguins attack, Giroux said.

"He got the other team rattled. That's what he does," Giroux said. "He likes to get in guys' faces. His game is not pretty, but it's effective. I'm having a lot of fun playing with him."

So is right winger Jaromir Jagr -- not that he knows what to make of Hartnell in this first season with the Flyers.

"That's the way (Hartnell) is: You don't know what to expect," Jagr said. "I played with him 60 games, and I still don't know what to expect."

The Penguins face the Flyers twice more over the final 11 regular-season games. Each contest is at Consol Energy Center, and at least one prominent Penguin should know what to expect.

Center Evgeni Malkin, the NHL's scoring leader and MVP favorite, was penalized for hooking and elbowing in a span of 10 third-period minutes -- and Hartnell took particular pride in the time Malkin spent in the sin bin.

"He's good for a couple of (penalties) a game if you hit him and play him tight," Hartnell said. "You've got to know where he is at all times on the ice."

Same with Hartnell -- a six-time scorer of 20 goals, though most famous for his feistiness.

"He's always there yapping or punching and some stuff," Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "I'm really happy he's on our team."

Additional Information:

Setting 'em up

Flyers wingers Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell have combined for six goals against the Penguins this season, but their center, Claude Giroux, has been MVP-like. A look at Giroux against the Penguins:

Date Giroux Flyers result

Dec. 8 assist, even rating Won, 3-2

Dec. 29 assist, plus-1 rating Won, 5-1

Feb. 18 assist, minus-3 rating Lost, 6-4

Sunday 2 assists, even rating Won, 3-2 (OT)

Source: NH L

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