The Philadelphia Flyers are officially on a roll -- they finally beat the team that has tortured them for the past couple of seasons.
The Flyers got two goals by Jeff Carter and rookie James van Riemsdyk as they rolled over the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-4 on Thursday night at Mellon Arena. It was Philadelphia's first victory in four tries this season against the Penguins, who had won 10 of the last 13 regular-season meetings -- as well as eliminating the Flyers from the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
''They are one of top teams in NHL and we've had our struggles with them,'' said forward Arron Asham, who set up both of van Riemsdyk's goals. ''Coming in here and stealing two points was huge. It's a stepping stone for us and we've been playing some great hockey the last couple of weeks. We want to keep it going.''
The Flyers have it going now. They improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight games and have scored 13 goals in beating Toronto and Pittsburgh on back-to-back nights after a 2-10-1 slide that cost coach John Stevens his job.
"It's another step, I think," said Peter Laviolette, who took over for Stevens last month. "I think we're going in the right direction. It's important that we stick with what we're doing. I think the guys have played hard -- throw out one game -- in the last eight or nine. We've played pretty hard and gotten some results."
Beating their in-state rivals was especially sweet for the Flyers, who are now ninth in the East and have games in hand on the three teams above them.
''If you look at the last few times we played them, it's not much of a rivalry,'' said defenseman Matt Carle, referring to the Penguins' back-to-back wins on Dec. 15-17. ''It's nice to come in here and get a big win.''
Captain Sidney Crosby scored twice for the Penguins, his 25th and 26th goals, but the Penguins gave up too many odd-man rushes and didn't get a big night from Marc-Andre Fleury in goal as they lost for the seventh in nine games. Pittsburgh now begins a five-game road trip that winds up with a three-game Western Canada swing.
"I wouldn't pinpoint one part of our game that was at fault for that kind of goal total," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "But we did make some pretty pointed mistakes, puck management-wide and defensive-wise, that led to some good scoring opportunities for them -- and they were able to capitalize."
Carter and van Riemsdyk scored 31 seconds apart to put Philadelphia ahead 2-0 just 7:10 into the game. Crosby buried a slapper at 8:25, but Carle scored a power-play goal at 16:51 for a 3-1 lead. Matt Cooke cut the margin back to one with a slap shot through traffic that beat Michael Leighton at 19:04.
But the Flyers chased Fleury when Chris Pronger scored from just inside the blue line at 1:42, putting them up 4-2. Fleury angrily threw his stick down the runway that leads to the dressing room as he left the ice and was replaced by Brent Johnson. But the change didn't help -- he gave up van Riemsdyk's second goal of the game 74 seconds later to make it 5-2.
''They didn't miss their opportunities,'' Penguins forward Bill Guerin said. ''It's tough to play from behind in this League.''
Crosby scored at 10:32, but Carter's second of the night midway through the third period and Mike Richards' empty-netter offset Mike Rupp's blast from the slot past Leighton at 12:08 of the third.
''We hurt ourselves with mistakes, mistakes we can't expect to get away with it,'' Crosby said. ''With seven goals, they capitalized a lot. ... It's not a lack of effort, but it's not something we can accept.''
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report