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Crosby's pair leads Pens to 5-1 win at Philly

by John Kreiser
All Sidney Crosby needed to break out of an early-season slump was a visit to Philadelphia.

Crosby has been dynamite against the Flyers, especially at the Wells Fargo Center, and Saturday night was no different. He scored a pair of power-play goals 94 seconds apart in the third period to blow open a tight game and lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 victory.

Crosby now has 13 goals and 28 points in 17 regular-season games in Philadelphia. Overall against the Flyers, he has 26 goals and 59 points in 33 games.

So why does he play so well in Philadelphia? Even Sid isn't sure.

"There's a comfort level," he said of facing the Penguins' Atlantic Division rival. "We've played here a lot and know each other well. There aren't a lot of surprises. There's really no way to explain it."

Pittsburgh scored five unanswered goals after Danny Briere's power-play goal 6:43 into the game to avenge a 3-2 opening-night loss to the Flyers that spoiled the Penguins' debut at the new Consol Energy Center.

Chris Kunitz tied the game at 11:31 of the first and Mark Letestu got the go-ahead goal with 45 seconds left in the second. Crosby then deflated the sellout crowd and the Flyers with goals at 3:13 and 4:37 of the third.

"Whether they're questionable (calls) or deserved, we're going to the box, and it ended up costing us," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "Penalties are avoidable. It taxes the penalty killers. It taxes the defensemen. We're not scoring five-on-five, and that doesn't help, but now we're on defense again. That's not good enough. We have to be more disciplined."

Matt Cooke added a shorthanded empty-netter with 3:24 left to give the Penguins a 3-3-0 record and hand the Flyers their third consecutive loss.

"We're not scoring a lot of goals right now," Laviolette said. "We have to do a better job in the battles for the puck. I'm not happy with where we are offensively as a group. We have to generate more."

Capitals 3, Predators 2 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS

Dominating the Caps for 40 minutes wasn't enough to keep the Predators unbeaten. Washington rallied from a 2-0 deficit on third-period goals by Alexander Semin and Tomas Fleischmann, then got the win when Alex Ovechkin's power-play blast 1:44 into overtime hit Brooks Laich and deflected into the net.

Nashville had won its first three games and looked ready to make it 4-for-4, leading 2-0 after 40 minutes on goals by J-P Dumont and Jordin Tootoo. Only a superb 28-save performance by Michal Neuvirth kept the Caps in the game.

That all changed after Semin sizzled a shot past rookie goaltender Anders Lindback for a power-play goal 4:33 into the third period. Fleischmann tied it at 12:14.

"You could feel the tide turning," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They outplayed us so badly in the first 27 or 28 minutes of the game. You look up and you see that you're only down a goal or two goals, you've still got a chance. Every time we play these guys is like this. They're so fast. The fastest team, easily, that we've seen."

The overtime belonged to Ovechkin, who gave the Caps a power play when he drew a tripping call on Ryan Suter, then fired the shot that clipped Laich and went into the net to give Washington its fourth consecutive victory after an opening-night loss at Atlanta.

"I had just told him before that, that when I'm going to be shooting the puck, don't try to tip it in front," Ovechkin said. "But he tipped it, and he made it."

The Predators don't see the Caps often because the teams play in opposite conferences. Predators coach Barry Trotz didn't sound like that's such a bad thing -- the less he sees No. 8, the happier he is.

"If you forgot how big he is, he's 230 pounds of pure muscle, speed and competitiveness," Trotz said of Ovechkin.

Stars 3, Blues 2 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Dallas' flawless start isn't getting the attention that Toronto's has received, but the Stars improved to 4-0-0 thanks to shootout goals by Brad Richards, Loui Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro.

The Stars were outshot 43-25 and had to overcome a 2-0 deficit, but they won for the second time in as many shootouts to match the Leafs' hot start. Kari Lehtonen continues to show why GM Joe Nieuwendyk was so eager to get him, turning aside 41 shots through 65 minutes and stopping T.J. Oshie in the first round of the shootout. Brad Boyes scored in the second round, but Ribeiro beat Ty Conklin in the third to win the game.

"He was terrific. He gave us an opportunity to win and he was superb all night long," coach Marc Crawford said of Lehtonen. "Your goaltender builds such a foundation for your team. Tonight was a case where we did not have much going other than (Lehtonen). The belief that was built by him tonight was infectious."

The Blues led 2-0 before the game was four minutes old. Patrik Berglund scored 1:11 after the opening faceoff and Andy McDonald beat Lehtonen for a power-play goal at 3:48.

James Neal got one back at the 18-minute mark, and Dallas tied it when Eriksson put home a backhander at 14:43 of the second. Lehtonen was the hero in the third period, stopping all 14 shots he faced while the Stars managed just five.

"We executed well on offensive zone time early in the hockey game, and even through the second period," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "The problem was it felt like Lehtonen was barring the door in the second period. They were keeping the game within striking distance, and that's exactly what happened."

Panthers 6, Lightning 0 | HIGHLIGHTS

The Panthers put on a terrific show for the sellout crowd of 17,040 that turned out for their home opener, as David Booth scored twice and Tomas Vokoun recorded his second straight shutout.

"That's about as good as it gets," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "A good crowd, entertaining game, it was just what the doctor ordered for us coming off the road."

Booth's first goal triggered a three-goal outburst in a span of 3:50 late in the first period that sent Florida off the ice at intermission with a 4-0 lead. He and Rostislav Olesz added third-period goals as the Panthers handed Tampa Bay its first loss.

Vokoun made 29 saves for his 40th career shutout and Bryan McCabe had four assists. 

"It's a nice start at home. I thought we played really hard," McCabe said. "Sometimes it's tough coming back from a road trip and sometimes there's a letdown. We didn't let that happen tonight."

The Panthers were equal-opportunity scorers, getting three against starter Dan Ellis and the rest against Mike Smith as the Lightning appeared to show the effects of playing three road games in four days.

"They were home and they need to please their fans at the opener," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "They had all the emotions they needed. For us, it was just the opposite. Our goaltenders have been great up until now but they were like the rest of the team tonight. They were just off."

Bruins 4, Devils 1 | HIGHLIGHTS

Tim Thomas showed he can win on either side of the Atlantic. Thomas, who shut out Phoenix on Sunday in Prague, made 31 saves in New Jersey and rode a four-goal second period to victory.

For's game story, click here.

Islanders 5, Avalanche 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Milan Jurcina, who usually makes a living preventing goals, scored a pair as the Islanders beat Colorado for the sixth time in a row at the Nassau Coliseum.
For's game story, click here.

Blue Jackets 3, Wild 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

One night after playing a clunker in their home opener, the Blue Jackets won at Minnesota thanks to R.J. Umberger's shorthanded goal with 9:02 left in regulation.

"We showed a lot of character," Umberger said. "We're going to have bumps in the road, and you have to bounce back the next night. It was a character win."

First-year coach Scott Arniel, who began his day showing his team the litany of breakdowns in Friday's 5-2 loss to Chicago, agreed.

"It was more how we wanted to play," Arniel said. "Just our compete level, just how we do it as 20 guys. That's what it takes, you learn from your mistakes. We put our nose to the grindstone."

The Jackets twice took leads on goals by Derek Dorsett in the first period and Derek McKenzie in the second, only to see the Wild get even on Brent Burns' spectacular power-play goal early in the second and Cal Clutterbuck's goal with 1:17 left in the period. Clutterbuck's was only the second 5-on-5 goal of the season for the Wild, and the first in more than 218 minutes.

Umberger's goal needed a video replay before it was confirmed.

"He (goalie Niklas Backstrom) dragged the puck back into the net, it was a good five inches over the line," said Umberger of his third goal of the season. "I give the refs a lot of credit, they called it on the ice, and they stuck with it."

Backstrom didn't think the puck went into the net, but Wild coach Todd Richards said his team didn't play well enough to win.

"Regardless of the call, of what we think, or what really happened, we got what we deserved," Richards said. "From the start we didn't really have the urgency that we needed to play, until they counted it a goal. Then it seemed like there was some urgency."

Thrashers 4, Sharks 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Atlanta had never won in San Jose, so the Thrashers brought in Shark-killer Dustin Byfuglien. Big Buff, who helped shoot the Sharks out of the playoffs and lead Chicago to the Stanley Cup last spring, got his first goal as a Thrasher to break a 2-2 tie with 6:20 remaining.

San Jose, playing for the first time since splitting two games with Columbus in Stockholm last weekend, grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Dany Heatley and Ryane Clowe. But the Sharks appeared to run out of steam after that, and the Thrashers found their legs.

“It was role-reversal really," San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought we’d get better as the night went on but I think exactly the opposite happened.
Perhaps things were a little bit too easy for us early in the game and then we weren’t prepared to buckle down and work hard enough to win the game.”

Andrew Ladd and Anthony Stewart tied the game with goals in the second period. Byfuglien put in a power-play rebound for the lead goal and Evander Kane added insurance by finishing off a 3-on-1 break. Chris Mason made 37 saves.

It was Atlanta's first win in seven trips to the Shark Tank and just the Thrashers' second ever against the Sharks.

Byfuglien got a kick out of beating his old teammate, Antti Niemi -- the other playoff hero for the Hawks in the sweep of San Jose last spring.

"It's always fun to come back and play against a former teammate and have a good time," Byfuglien said. "At the same time we're here to do a job and we can't ease up on him. We wanted to put as many shots on him as we could. He's a pretty quiet guy, a good kid, and he has a bright future."
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