ST. PAUL, Minn. - After it was over, after he became the oldest goalie since 1926 to win his NHL debut, Rob Zepp was overjoyed by the moment.
A moment that left him prideful that he had continued to chase his dream through countless bus rides during 14 professional seasons.
Zepp, 33, finally played in the NHL Sunday night and performed well as the Flyers overcame a two-goal, third-period deficit and stunned the Winnipeg Jets, 4-3, in overtime at the MTS Centre.
"The way the guys battled there in the third period was unbelievable," said Zepp after the Flyers tied the score at 3-3 on two third-period goals by Vinny Lecavalier. "I said to them that I appreciate this more than anyone knows. I've been playing hockey for 26 years, trying to get here. And to get here and be able to play - the game wasn't perfect, obviously - and then to get the win at the end was just incredible."
After seven years in Germany and stops in the OHL, ECHL, and AHL, Zepp made 25 saves, and kept the Flyers within 3-1 with the best stop of the night in the closing seconds of the second period. He denied Mark Scheifele with his outstretched right skate. Scheifele was all alone in front after the Jets had a three-on-two break.
"If we go into the room and it's 4-1, it makes a big difference," said Claude Giroux, whose team takes a two-game winning streak into Minnesota on Tuesday.
Added Giroux, who, along with former Flyer Danny Briere, was Zepp's teammate in Germany during the NHL's 2012-13 lockout: "He's worked so hard to get here. There's nobody that deserves this more than him. . . . We're really happy for him and wanted to get the win for him."
Zepp "kept us in the game in the beginning; they came out very hard," Jake Voracek said.
Voracek, the NHL's leading scorer, had two goals and deposited the game-winner 10 seconds into overtime. Giroux harassed massive defenseman Dustin Byfuglien into a misplay, Voracek picked up the puck, swooped in from behind the net and ended the comeback with his 14th goal - tying him with Wayne Simmonds for the team lead.
When the game ended, angry Flyers coach Craig Berube and Byfuglien - who spent the night punishing the Flyers, especially Giroux, with jarring hits - got into a shouting match on the ice.
Giroux said Byfuglien "really gave it to us. He probably hammered me six or seven times. That's good. It's part of the game. And it gets you involved a bit. That was a fun game to play."
Especially for a certain 33-year-old rookie.