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Penguins dump slumping Flyers

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Two teams heading in opposite directions continued their divergent paths Thursday.

Jussi Jokinen and Chris Kunitz scored 2:30 apart in the second period, Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sidney Crosby also scored for the Penguins (6-1-0). Crosby has points in his first seven games for the first time in his career. Evgeni Malkin added an empty-netter.

"The start of the season is always an adjustment," Crosby said. "You really just focus on your work ethic and making sure you're committed to doing what you need to do every night. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way, especially early on, but we found a way to win games for different reasons. It's nice to get rewarded early on and to build some confidence and momentum."

Wayne Simmonds scored his first goal of the season for the struggling Flyers, who are off to the worst start in franchise history at 1-7-0. They have just 11 goals in eight games.

"My opinion, and I think everyone else's opinion, is (we are playing) terrible hockey," Philadelphia goaltender Steve Mason said. "You are not going to win hockey games like that. I thought the guys came out with a lot more emotion in the third period, and that's the way we need to play. If we can start playing like that, then we will start being more successful than we are."

Down 2-0 late in the second period, the Flyers got back in it by snapping an 0-for-18 drought on the power play. Claude Giroux controlled the puck in the left circle, looked up at the clock, saw the seconds ticking down and took a shot. Simmonds deflected it in with 1.7 seconds left before intermission.

The Flyers had excellent chances to tie it in the third period but couldn't get one into the net.

Fleury made an outstanding glove save on Simmonds' backhand-to-forehand shot from in front on Philadelphia's power-play chance early in the third.

"He looks strong in the net," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of Fleury, who is 6-0. "He held the fort for us."

Minutes after that save, Brayden Schenn hit the left post on yet another power-play opportunity for the Flyers.

"They have a very good power play, and we handled it well and didn't give them too much, so that was key," Fleury said.

Mason then robbed Jokinen at the opposite end, gloving his point-blank shot to keep the deficit at one goal.

"Obviously guys are frustrated when you don't win hockey games, but at the same time, we have five or six days off to regroup and look forward to a new start, new challenges ahead," Schenn said. "We can't look at our record. Now we have to look forward and have a good week of practice here and just be better after the break."

Crosby gave Pittsburgh a two-goal cushion with 2:32 left in the game.

The Penguins went up 1-0 by capitalizing on Kimmo Timonen's first-period turnover. Malkin picked up the loose puck, skated in and fed Jokinen, who blasted a wrister past Mason at 9:43.

Kunitz then made it 2-0 when he fired in a rebound at 12:13 after a shot by Matt Niskanen kicked out into the slot.

In a matchup of intrastate rivals that usually produces feisty play, there was only one fight. Flyers center Kris Newbury dropped the gloves for the first time this season, taking on Robert Bortuzzo after the Penguins defenseman's hard check on Zac Rinaldo in the second period.

"Going into this game, we didn't think we were playing a team that resembled a record that they have," Bylsma said. "They have a dangerous team. This game rivaled intensity-wise and physicality-wise any game we played this year. We were treating it like it was a big match in our division against a good team."

NOTES: Crosby has 29 goals and 44 assists in 44 regular-season games vs. Philadelphia. ... Malkin has 22 goals and 35 assists in 40 games against the Flyers. ... Penguins G Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), D Kris Letang (lower body), RW Matt D'Agostini (lower body), LW James Neal (upper body) and RW Beau Bennett (lower body) remain out. ... Flyers LW Scott Hartnell (upper body) and C Vincent Lecavalier (lower body) each missed their third consecutive game. ... The Flyers started the season 0-3, costing Peter Laviolette his job as coach. Craig Berube replaced him and won his first game but since has lost four in a row. ... The Flyers are 92-29-12 in 133 games vs. the Penguins in Philadelphia. ... The teams met for the first of five times this season.
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