Just as defenseman Chris Pronger had been preaching, the Flyers played a hard 60 minutes last night against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

In fact, it was even longer, considering that the scintillating game went into overtime and then a shoot-out at the sold-out Wachovia Center.

But it did not produce a Flyers victory.

The Penguins scored a 3-2 shoot-out win, sending the Flyers to their 12th loss in their last 15 games.

Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby scored in the shoot-out; Danny Briere and Claude Giroux were unsuccessful for the Flyers.

"We're going to have success if we do that each and every night," captain Mike Richards said of the Flyers' effort. "It's just doing it consistently."

"We would have liked to have gotten the win, but this is a point we weren't getting earlier in this stretch of bad games," goalie Brian Boucher said. "Sometimes getting a point, even though it doesn't feel good to not get the victory, is a step in the right direction."

Boucher was very good. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury was even better. Fleury made his 31st save as he stopped Richards' wrap-around with 1.8 seconds left in overtime, forcing the shoot-out.

"It was a hard-fought game, and we had a number of chances in overtime and late in the third period to get that go-ahead goal," said Pronger, whose team outshot the Penguins, 33-30. "We played a lot better than we did the other night. Obviously, we had a lot better legs. There were positive things out there."

Two nights earlier, the Penguins embarrassed the visiting Flyers, 6-1, and caused Richards to proclaim: "We're not playing with enough heart to have success."

The comments seemed to serve as a wake-up call.

"We had a lot of drive to the net . . . and we haven't had that in a while," winger Scott Hartnell said.

The Flyers' penalty-killing unit, however, struggled, allowing two goals in five attempts - against a Pittsburgh power play that entered the night ranked next to last in the NHL.

Overall, the Flyers were much more energized than Tuesday, when they played their second game in back-to-back nights. Jeff Carter was particularly inspired. Moved back to center after two games at right wing, Carter had a goal and seven shots. He won 62 percent of his face-offs and played one of his best games of the season.

Carter scored when he backhanded a rebound off defenseman Sergei Gonchar's right arm and then off the left post and into the net. Carter's 12th goal, just 1 minute, 15 seconds into the game, gave the Flyers a short-lived 1-0 lead.

About 21/2 minutes after Carter's goal, Bill Guerin scored on a rebound with Dan Carcillo in the penalty box for high-sticking Crosby.

Early in the second period, Carcillo atoned for his penalty by maneuvering down low and firing a bad-angle shot from near the right goal line. Fleury made the save, but Giroux knocked in the rebound from the slot. The power-play goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead.

Crosby tied it at 2-2 on a power-play goal with 10:43 left in the second period.

In a 15-second span, Fleury stopped a backhander from Arron Asham after the winger had broken in alone, turned aside James van Riemsdyk's rebound, and then made a great save on Carter out front.

"This is always the building we have to be ready to play in," said Crosby, who has 22 goals and 50 points in his last 29 regular-season games against the Flyers. "We know we're going to see their best, and hopefully, we bring our best."

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.