Penguins extend Flyers' season-opening misery
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Evgeni Malkin picked up a goal and one assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins sent the Philadelphia Flyers to a franchise- worst start to a season by claiming a 4-1 decision on Thursday.
Even playing without top defenseman Kris Letang (knee) and key forward James Neal (lower-body), four different players lit the lamp, including Sidney Crosby, who increased his season-commencing point streak to seven games.
Chris Kunitz and Jussi Jokinen also tallied for the Penguins, the Metropolitan Division leaders who improved to 6-1-0 on the year.
Pascal Dupuis added a pair of assists to back a 24-save effort from Marc-Andre Fleury.
Steve Mason continued his solid play, making 31 stops for the Flyers, who fell to 1-7-0 -- one point worse than a 1-6-1 start to the 2006-07 season.
Wayne Simmonds recorded the lone goal for Philadelphia, whose anemic offense has produced 11 goals so far.
Fleury robbed Simmonds in close during the Flyers' first advantage in the third period, and though the ice was tilted in the Philadelphia end for the majority of the final stanza, it remained only a one-goal edge for the visitors.
The Pens assumed a 3-1 margin with 2:32 left in regulation. An attempted clear from Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn from behind his net redirected off the side of the cage right to Dupuis in the slot, and he flipped the puck in front for an easy tap-in from Crosby.
Mason was summoned to the bench for an extra skater shortly after and Malkin connected into the empty net with 12.3 ticks left.
In a scoreless opening period, the Penguins failed to click on two-plus power- play chances and the Flyers came up short on their opportunity.
The hosts were held without a shot for 14 minutes by the time the visitors claimed the game's first goal. Malkin grabbed an attempted clear in the neutral zone, moved over the Philadelphia blue line and fed ahead to Jokinen for a high wrister from the right circle just before the midway point of regulation.
Kunitz made it 2-0 with 12:13 played in the second, when he swooped in on the right side and slammed home a Dupuis rebound which deflected off the shin pad of Coburn and stopped just outside Mason's crease.
Fleury was whistled for interference inside of a minute on the clock, and Simmonds halved the Flyers' deficit by hitting the net on a deflection of a Claude Giroux chance with two seconds to play. It snapped the club's 0-for-18 slide up a man.
Pittsburgh has won three in a row and five of the last seven games in Philadelphia ... Mason fell to 2-2-1 against the Penguins, with Thursday his first start against the Steel City club since making 32 saves in a 4-1 win with Columbus on Feb. 8, 2011 ... Crosby upped his point total in Philly to 35 points (14G, 21A) in 22 career regular-season games ... Malkin has 30 points (13G, 17A) over 22 games in eastern Pennsylvania ... Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen left the game in the second period and did not return with a lower- body injury.
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