PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier was thinking about the shootout. Teammate Matt Read didn't think much of his team's final rush up the ice. Flyers coach Craig Berube was reaching for his lineup card to start planning for his first three shooters in the tiebreaker.
Then in a flash, Flyers captain Claude Giroux changed the narrative.
Giroux's rocket off the rush from the top of the right circle with 4.2 seconds left in overtime lifted the Flyers to a 3-2 victory against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, giving Philadelphia its third straight victory.
Giroux also set up the game-tying goal, Scott Hartnell scored two goals, and Ray Emery made 23 saves in his first start since Feb. 8.
"It's pretty incredible," Lecavalier said of Giroux. "I saw him skate up the ice, and there's 10 seconds left, so you're thinking it's going to go to a shootout. What a great shot. He's done it all year, big goals. He's clutch for sure."
Giroux started the play by knocking down a Kris Versteeg centering pass in the Philadelphia zone, and after defenseman Mark Streit retrieved the puck, he took a pass from Streit in the neutral zone, flew into the Chicago end and unleashed a shot that screamed over goalie Antti Raanta's right shoulder, capping a comeback from a 2-0 first-period deficit.
"When I went on the ice, maybe 15 seconds, 20 seconds [were left]," Giroux said. "I knew there wasn't a lot of time, so I was just trying to shoot as hard as I can on net. Didn't really aim. Just shot it on net."
The goal was Giroux's 24th, and it gave him at least a point in four straight games and at least two points in three in a row. He has seven points in the past four games, moving him to fourth in the NHL with 71 points.
"He's playing phenomenal," Hartnell said of Giroux. "He's leading us in the dressing room. He's leading us on the ice every day in practice. It's pretty exciting to be a part of it, be on his line."
The victory allowed the Flyers to remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the New York Rangers and three ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The one point gained in the overtime loss allowed Chicago to equal the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division standings with 93 points, but the Avalanche remain ahead based on them having seven more wins in regulation and overtime.
"I think we could have used a few of those points," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They could have put us in a better spot, but that's where we're at, and we will have to deal with it."
The Blackhawks looked in control early, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Shaw and Keith 1:22 apart early in the first period, but the Flyers settled down and tied the game before the end of the first 20 minutes.
"We were a little sloppy the first five minutes with the puck," Berube said. "We started making better plays. We get it deep there and get that one goal, puts us right back in the game; everyone gets a boost from it. After that I thought we did a good job."
Hartnell got the Flyers on the board at 5:48 of the first on a fluky bounce when his pass attempt from behind the Chicago net bounced off the right skate of Blackhawks center Marcus Krueger and rolled over the goal line inside the post.
Giroux set up the game-tying goal with 3:33 left in the first when he stole the puck from Shaw behind the Chicago net and found Hartnell at the hash marks. The Flyers left wing's one-timer beat Raanta for his 18th goal.
As much as his offensive skills are obvious, it's Giroux's hard work in all three zones that stands out to his teammates.
"You look at your leaders to lead on the ice, and he's been doing that," Lecavalier said. "When you see him do it ... you can say whatever you want in the room, but when you go out there and he does it, I think guys get that extra step there. Guys follow him. That's what makes him who he is right now."
It's not the first time Giroux has stepped up in a big way against the Blackhawks. He had two goals and two assists in six games against them in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, including the overtime goal in Game 3. And months earlier, he made a stunning cross-ice saucer pass to a cutting Chris Pronger, who deflected the pass for the winning goal on March 13, 2010. And on Jan. 5, 2012, he drew an assist on James van Riemsdyk's winning goal with 33 seconds left in a 5-4 Flyers victory.
Giroux's goal Tuesday was his fifth game-winner of the season.
"It'll never get old seeing that," Read said. "Sitting on the bench we're all yelling, '10 seconds!' You're watching, but you're not expecting too much. What a great shot it was. ... He's been a tremendous leader of late. Since the Olympic break he's the hardest-working guy everywhere you go. He's the first one here every day. In his mind it's win-win-win at all costs.
"Any mistakes we make you hear it on the bench from him. He just wants perfect from everybody, and his game has shown a lot. He's on the ice working harder than everyone out there. It's fun to watch how talented he is, and he's being a true leader right now, and that's what we need for this final push."
The Blackhawks appeared to seize the game's momentum early in the first, turning a poor pass in the offensive zone by Brayden Schenn into a 1-0 lead on Shaw's 17th goal. Patrick Sharp jumped on the loose puck and led a breakout down the right side of the ice. He streaked around Flyers defenseman Mark Streit and got a shot on net that Emery stopped. Nicklas Grossmann blocked Michal Handzus' rebound attempt, but the puck came back to Handzus, who found Shaw joining the play. Shaw poked it past Emery at 2:29.
Keith made it 2-0 with his fourth goal at 3:51. Jonathan Toews sent the puck from deep in the Philadelphia end to Keith just inside the blue line, and his slap shot found enough room between Emery's arm and body to squirt through and across the goal line.
The goal was Keith's first in 30 games, dating to Dec. 17. It also was about the last reason the Blackhawks had to celebrate.
"We got a couple of quick ones there and we had the momentum," Keith said. "They got a lucky bounce, and then they were able to get another one. Pretty even game for the most part. We had a lot of chances, but so did they. At the end of the day, we would've obviously liked to get the win in overtime or at least get it to a shootout when we have possession with about 10 seconds left."
The Blackhawks won't have much time to dwell on the defeat, as they return home to play the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).
"If we thought the game [Tuesday] was tough and physical, it's going to be a whole other story [Wednesday]," Toews said. "We've got to turn the page and be ready and play like we know we can."
The Flyers won't have long to savor the win. The Dallas Stars are next in town Thursday, part of a stretch that sees the Flyers play four of the top teams in the Western Conference in a seven-day span that also includes visits from the Blues and Los Angeles Kings.
"They're up for it," Berube said of the challenge his team faces. "They know the situation that's at hand. We need points. Lot of teams right there. It's tight. We've got to win hockey games. Our guys are ready. They're competitive and they're working hard."
Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK