Craig Berube knew the Flyers would need a boost.
Even after pounding the Toronto Maple Leafs on "Hockey Night in Canada" on Saturday night, his team didn't arrive in Manitoba until after 1 a.m. yesterday.
The Jets, finally playing meaningful hockey in December, were waiting for them. And the Flyers still had one more stop on their tour - in Minnesota tomorrow night, their third city in 4 days, before returning home for Christmas.
Berube figured the NHL debut of 33-year-old goaltender Rob Zepp, starting in place of the injured Steve Mason, would do the trick.
His story, one of perseverance and dedication after a decade's journey through Europe, could resonate with everyone in the Flyers' locker room.
"The first period, we're going to need energy," Berube said before the game. "They're going to be excited for him and they're going to play hard in front of him."
Berube maybe just wasn't expecting the energy to last all game.
Zepp became the eighth-oldest goaltender in the 97-year history of the National Hockey League to start in his debut last night.
"It's been kind of a whirlwind the last 48 hours," he said. "But the way the guys battled in the third period tonight was unbelievable. I appreciate this more than anyone knows. To play and get the win in the end like that is great."
He didn't get much help in the first half of his storybook night, but the Flyers took off in the second half.
In fact, Zepp only needed to stop two pucks in the third period and overtime combined as the Flyers erased a two-goal deficit to stun the Jets, 4-3, at MTS Centre. The Flyers have started their eight-game road trip with two victories.
NHL leading scorer Jake Voracek, who scored in the first period, added the game-winner just 10 seconds into overtime when he snuck a shot past close friend Ondrej Pavelec.
Vinny Lecavalier, who also scored twice, helped get the game to overtime when he tied it with 3:14 to play in regulation. Going into the game, he hadn't scored since Nov. 1, the second-longest drought of his career.
Led by their fourth line, the Flyers dominated play so much so in the third period that they had a chance to win in regulation. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare rung an attempt off both the crossbar and the left post before it exited the crease and was ruled no-goal by the league's official review in Toronto.
Before that, the Flyers trailed and were outshot, 26-13, through the first two frames.
Zepp became the oldest goaltender to win in his debut since Chicago's Hugh Lehman did it in 1926 at the age of 40. He compared his feat to climbing Mount Everest.
"I've really been reflecting on the journey since I got called up," he said. "There were so many moments that had to happen for this to come together.
"I always believed in myself and my abilities. I was fortunate to get a chance with the Flyers. For the guys to have a third period like tonight, that was extra special. I had a feeling they were going to come back."
Claude Giroux threw off his gloves and his stick went flying as he writhed around on the ice in pain.
During the second period, Giroux was entering the Flyers' zone when he inadvertently ran into Jets forward Chris Thorburn's outstretched stick. Thornburn's stick caught Giroux in the face. Thorburn just jumped on the ice from the bench and Giroux did not see him coming.
Clutching his face, the Flyers' captain needed assistance getting back to the bench from trainer Jim McCrossin, but he was not bleeding. He ended up finishing the game without issue.
There was a hush over the MTS Centre crowd when Giroux went down. The end of Chris Pronger's storied career began with an accidental stick to the eye against Toronto in 2011 and he was in similar pain on the ice. Pronger, coincidentally, played the last game of his career in Winnipeg on Nov. 19, 2011.
Giroux's first-period assist pushed him to 40 points on the season. Dallas' Tyler Seguin posted athree points yesterday against the Oilers, but Voracek pulled past him for the league lead with his 43rd point and added another with the winner. Without Seguin's three-point day, the Flyers would have boasted the NHL's No. 1 and No. 2 scorers.
Forward Zac Rinaldo missed the game with an "upper-body" injury suffered in the first period in Toronto on Saturday night. He is listed as "day-to-day" and could possibly play tomorrow night in Minnesota . . . GM Ron Hextall visited the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame yesterday. Born in Brandon, Manitoba, Hextall was inducted in 2007 . . . Did you know Jets coach Paul Maurice was a Flyers draft pick? He was selected 252nd overall in 1985 by the Flyers. Maurice, 47, is a year younger than Craig Berube but has coached 1,041 more NHL games as a head coach.