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Flyers rebound with hard-fought win against Penguins

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Philadelphia Flyers responded to a shutout loss with a hard-fought win.

Three third-period goals propelled the Flyers to a 5-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday.

Less than a minute after it was ruled a shot from Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin never crossed the Philadelphia goal line, Flyers forward R.J. Umberger broke a 2-2 tie with his first goal of the season 6:50 into the third period. Claude Giroux found Umberger streaking to the net, which allowed him to redirect Giroux's pass past Marc-Andre Fleury's blocker.

Philadelphia's Matt Read extended the lead to 4-2, 2:00 later when he received a pass from Sean Couturier, deked to his right and back to his left before lifting a backhand over Fleury.

"It's a big moment for our team," Umberger said. "The way we responded after the last game (a 4-0 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday). Obviously, nothing was good about that game. So for us to come in tonight and beat a good team on their ice, finish up a road trip, a lot of courage there."

Pittsburgh's Marcel Goc took a pass from Nick Spaling with 2:57 remaining and put a shot behind diving goalie Ray Emery to pull the Penguins within 4-3. Couturier scored an empty-net goal with 26.1 seconds remaining.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, a 29-year-old Flyers forward, scored in the first period for his first NHL goal in his sixth game.

"It was pretty unbelievable," Bellemare said. "Especially, we won the game tonight. That helped to make it feel even better about it … I think [my family in France is] pretty much in front of the TV right now. I don't think I have to wake them up."

Philadelphia controlled the second period, outshooting Pittsburgh 17-6, but allowed the only goal. Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis scored at 9:00 to send the game into the third period tied 2-2.

Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin slapped a shot into the Philadelphia crease with Dupuis and Malkin screening Emery. The puck seemed to deflect off a Flyers defenseman and then Dupuis, causing Emery to lose track of it, then slid past Emery's right pad for Dupuis' second goal of the season, his first since being taken off on a stretcher during the Penguins' 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Oct. 16.

Fleury was bombarded by shots throughout the period, leading to him sprawling in his crease several times. One instance led to him lying on his back, losing his stick and moving from the left post to right to make a glove save to keep the Penguins down one goal.

Fleury faced a similar flurry a few minutes later when Wayne Simmonds hit him in the chest with a snap shot that made him fall backward before Bellemare whiffed on a shot with Fleury on his back 5:34 into the second period.

"Our second period wasn't good," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We still found a way to get ourselves back in the game, but we didn't set ourselves up for the third. It wasn't quite the way we wanted to play, but still, it's a tied game going into the third and we have a bad third period.

"We're playing a team playing in back-to-back games and playing at home, we should take advantage of that opportunity."

Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said he thought Philadelphia started to take control of the game during the second period.

"I thought we tried to make some dangerous plays in the neutral zone," Johnston said. "They turned over the puck and counterpunched against us. I really thought in the second period, that's when the momentum turned in their favor. Also, I thought when we entered the offensive zone, we maybe tried to make the extra pass before we took a shot and our shot total started to go down.

"Those types of things, those shot totals, they create momentum."

Fleury finished with 28 saves; Emery made 22.

Much like Philadelphia dominated the second period, Pittsburgh had the better play throughout the first, which was evident when Spaling scored the first goal at 3:50.

Shortly after a penalty to Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde expired, Spaling received a pass from Christian Ehrhoff by fighting off Couturier just outside the Philadelphia crease and put a wrist shot past Emery's blocker to score his first goal with the Penguins.

Philadelphia was outshot 11-7 in the first period and didn't have many chances but took advantage of the few it earned.

The Flyers tied the game 9:20 into the first when defenseman Mark Streit sent a slap shot into traffic caused by Michael Raffl. Streit's shot deflected off Malkin's stick past Fleury to tie the game.

Philadelphia took a 2-1 lead a few minutes later, 14 seconds after Couturier was released from the penalty box. Defenseman Nick Schultz carried the puck through the neutral zone and slipped a pass to Couturier, who found Bellemare streaking toward the net. He tipped the pass over Fleury's glove with at 6:42.

"I liked the way we checked," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "I think in the neutral zone, we did a real good job. We held the puck and took away their speed for the most part, kept them on the outside. That's what you have to do with [Crosby] and [Malkin], you have to make sure they you neutralize their speed as much as you can."

Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo sustained an upper-body injury and did not return after the second intermission.

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