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Flyers Fall in Opener, 4-0

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
(Pittsburgh, PA, October 5, 2006) – Sidney Crosby, Michel Ouellet and Jarkko Ruutu each had a goal and an assist in leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Mellon Arena on Thursday night.

The Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead despite getting outshot 12-5. Ouellet fired a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle inside the far post at 6:46, and later Ruutu found the rebound of a shot by Ouellet at 9:34.

Philadelphia went on the power play for four minutes after a high-sticking penalty to Colby Armstrong at 15:37 when he whacked Petr Nedved, including half a minute of a two-man advantage, but could not capitalize.

The Penguins made it 3-0 on Crosby's goal at 1:57 of the second period, when he beat Robert Esche to the short side after skating with the puck along the boards from his own zone.

Again, the Flyers had a great chance to finally get on the scoreboard later in the frame with their power play, but Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made a couple of spectacular saves to keep it 3-0. He gloved a shot by Mike Knuble from the slot, and later made a sliding pad save on Simon Gagne, both on set-ups by Peter Forsberg.

"We had the right people on the ice, with the right scoring chances, and we didn't score," said Ken Hitchcock.

Fleury finished with 40 saves in recording the shutout, while Esche stopped 17 of 21 Pittsburgh shots.

"[Fleury] played great, you've got to say that, but some games if the goalie plays good you have to have people in front of him so he doesn't see the puck," said Forsberg. "We didn't get enough traffic and he saw everything."

With 6:51 left in the second period, Forsberg and Crosby got into a shoving and shouting match behind Esche after a collision with the Philadelphia goaltender. Another Flyers power play was the end result, but they failed to convert.

Josef Melichar's goal at 17:06 made it 4-0 at the second intermission and capped the scoring.

The Flyers finished the night 0-for-10 on the power play and killed off all four Penguins advantages.

"We did a lot of really good things in stretches but we have to finish some of the things we're creating," said Hitchcock. "We were given a lot of penalties and there were a lot of power plays and we didn't capitalize. We had six or seven no-brainers and we didn't capitalize. They had a few chances in the first two periods and they scored on the ones they had."

The game was the first of eight meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals, with the next coming at the Wachovia Center on October 28.

Philadelphia opens its home schedule on Saturday at the Wachovia Center against the New York Rangers (7:00 p.m., CSN).

Hitchcock coached in his 750th career NHL game, an NHL milestone. This was the fifth time the Flyers opened the season against the Penguins, and they fell to 2-2-1 in those games.  Philadelphia was 6-1-1 against Pittsburgh last season. Flyers scratches included Denis Gauthier and Lars Jonsson due to injury, while Riley Cote and Niko Dimitrakos also did not play.
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