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Flyers hold off Penguins 4-3

Thursday, 01.24.2008 / 11:39 PM / Game of the Night

By Brian Hunter - Staff Writer

The Flyers are tied for first inthe Atlantic Division thanks to R.J. Umberger's three-point night against Pittsburgh.
It took four separate one-goal leads before the Philadelphia Flyers could make an advantage stand up Thursday night.

That’s how plucky the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins were, but the Flyers were every bit as resilient – they answered each tying goal with a go-ahead tally of their own, and eventually held on for a 4-3 victory at the Wachovia Center.

R.J. Umberger had a goal and two assists and Mike Knuble sent Philadelphia into the All-Star break happy by scoring the go-ahead score at 5:25 of the third period and lifting the Flyers into a first-place tie in the Atlantic Division with the New Jersey Devils, one point ahead of the Penguins.

“That was a goal of ours all year," Umberger said. "It's a crucial time now."

After losing all eight meetings with the Penguins last season, the Flyers have won started 2007-08 with a 4-0 mark against their in-state rivals. They also bounced back solidly from a 7-3 home loss to the Devils on Tuesday.

“I think we have a great bunch of guys in the room with a lot of character,” Flyers captain Jason Smith said. “We were disappointed with the game the other night and the guys were focused. We played well right from the start.”

Knuble’s hard work paid off as he drove to the net and found himself in the right place when Jeff Carter’s pass hit the skate of Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi and skittered through the crease. Knuble took a couple of whacks and was able to slip the puck past Ty Conklin at 5:25 for his 16th of the season ( 700K) – just 34 seconds after the Penguins had tied the score for the third time.

I With his team in a slump, Daniel Alfredsson stepped up – big time.

The Senators took a three-game losing streak into Thursday night’s game against Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum – and left for their All-Star break with an 8-4 victory, thanks to a career-high seven-point night by Ottawa’s captain.

"You could tell he was on fire," Senators goalie Martin Gerber said after Alfredsson scored three goals and set up four more. "It was fun to watch, that's for sure."


"Knuble was the only one who saw where it was and took a whack at it," Conklin said. "They certainly went hard to the net, especially on the game-winning goal."

Each side netted a goal on a five-minute power play awarded to the Flyers at the tail end of the second period when Georges Laraque was called for checking from behind on Steve Downie.

Jim Vandermeer put the Flyers ahead 3-2 at 3:53 ( 700K) with a slapper from just inside the blue line that surprised Conklin. But the power-play tally was quickly answered by a short-hander by the Penguins’ Ray Whitney. Martin Biron stopped Ryan Malone on a breakaway and Jordan Staal was tangled up in front also looking for the rebound when Whitney knocked it in at 4:51 for his eighth. A video review cleared Staal of interference that could have wiped out the goal.

Umberger, one of two Flyers to record hat tricks in their last meeting with the Penguins, an 8-2 triumph on Dec. 11 – Joffrey Lupul, currently sidelined, was the other – got the scoring started midway through the first period ( 700K). Smith’s drive from the point deflected off a Pittsburgh skater and onto the stick of Umberger, who beat Conklin from the slot for a 1-0 lead.

Malkin continued his stellar play in the absence of Sidney Crosby and drew the Penguins even before period’s end. Jarkko Ruutu got knocked off the puck in the offensive zone – but the puck came to Malkin, who stickhandled in on Biron and beat him to his backhand with 3:23 left in the first ( 700K).

The teams traded goals again in the second. Randy Jones got his third for the Flyers when he cut to the net and took a nifty Scott Hartnell pass from his knees at 12:59, but Petr Sykora deflected Sergei Gonchar’s shot past Biron on a Pittsburgh power play just under five minutes later.

“It’s like a playoff game every night,” said Stevens of the Atlantic Division games. “It’s an old cliché that they are four-point games, but they really are.”

Winning another of those battles against Pittsburgh gives the Flyers some momentum going into the All-Star break, and Smith hopes they can continue to surge after it.

“A couple days off from the rink to re-charge the batteries is important,” said the defenseman. “Anytime you have a chance to re-focus and just have some time to mellow, it’s good.”

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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