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Penguins draw first blood by beating Flyers 5-4 @NHLdotcom

PHILADELPHIA -- Redemption.

That's how the Pittsburgh Penguins viewed their 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night at the Wachovia Center. In some ways, the Penguins weren't playing against the Flyers so much as against their "dark side" -- the one that was shut out 3-0 by the Phoenix Coyotes at home one night earlier.

"We're happy to get the chance to play here tonight, regroup and respond," said captain Sidney Crosby, who was held without a point despite playing a strong game. "(Wednesday) night wasn't our team and wasn't our identity. I think we were a lot better here tonight and I think that's what we all expected."

The Penguins got goals from five players and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves to knock the Flyers from the ranks of the undefeated. The Atlantic Division rivals both are 3-1-0 this season.

Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Bill Guerin, Alex Goligoski and Tyler Kennedy all scored for the Penguins, overcoming two goals each from Danny Briere and Jeff Carter. The Flyers outshot the Penguins 34-25. Goligoski and Malkin also added assists. In all, eight players hit the scoresheet for the Penguins.

"They have a lot of depth, they're a strong team," said Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn, whose second-period "own goal" cost the Flyers dearly.

The Penguins, who beat the New York Rangers and New York Islanders on Friday and Saturday before the loss to Phoenix, are now 3-0-0 within the division.

"That's always important," Crosby said. "We may not always be thinking about that, but later in the season these points could be very important. We have a lot of games left against the division but this is a good start."

In the other dressing room, Chris Pronger, who had an assist on Carter's second goal, tried to put the defeat into a long-term perspective.

"Just a piece of adversity that this team is going to have to learn to overcome," Pronger said. 'Look, it was a one-goal loss and we had chances to score there at the end."

The Penguins didn't take long to grab the lead. Briere was called for hooking Staal 14 seconds into the first period and Malkin scored on the power play. Quarterbacking the power play from the left half-wall, Malkin took a pass from Sergei Gonchar, walked out above the faceoff circle and fired a slap shot over Ray Emery's glove.

The Flyers had the best chances over the next few minutes. Claude Giroux was stopped by Fleury at 1:15. Briere's pass to a breaking Carter, all alone in the slot, was off the mark at 4:32. Kris Letang won a battle against Scott Hartnell to keep the puck out of the net at 6:51 and Fleury denied Simon Gagne's push-in attempt at 9:05.

The Flyers evened the score at 11:53 when Carter drew a faceoff back to the right point. Coburn skated down the boards, over the goal line and passed to Briere in the slot for a backhander past Fleury.

But Staal scored 28 seconds later when Malkin, at center ice, threaded a pass to him at the blue line. Staal stepped around Kimmo Timonen and skated past Coburn before roofing one over Emery's right side.

"Some of the things that happened in the Washington game, happened again tonight," Flyers coach John Stevens said, referring to his team's 6-5 win over the Caps on Tuesday. "We're gift-wrapping chances for the other team. We get some good momentum and we work so hard to score a goal and then we give one right back with blatant turnovers.

"It's got to get cleaned up ... we have to make teams earn the goals they get. Right now, they're the direct result of what we're doing with the puck."

The Flyers tied the game on Briere's second of the night, a power-play goal at 2:37 of the second period. With Kunitz off for tripping Mike Richards at 1:17. Pronger took a shot from the right point that broke Matt Cooke's stick. Carter held the puck along the right boards down low and attempted to pass through the slot to Pronger at the point. Cooke, without a stick, blocked the pass but it rebounded to Briere, who tapped it in on Fleury's right side.

It looked like déjà vu all over again when Crosby walked in alone on Emery at 2:48 but the Flyers goalie made a great save. He wasn't as sharp on Guerin's first goal of the season at 5:26. Guerin collected Kunitz's cross-ice, backhand pass on the left side at the blue line, walked in on his off wing and tucked a low shot past Emery's left side.

Matt Carle was in the penalty box for holding Guerin when Malkin went off for interference at 7:37 and the Flyers were a second away from going on the power play when Goligoski dumped the puck in the corner to Emery's right. Carter passed it to Coburn behind the goal line but Coburn was hurried into a bad pass by Ruslan Fedotenko's forecheck and the puck went diagonally through the back of the Flyers' crease, rebounding into the net off Emery's left skate to make it 4-2.

"I tried to make a good pass but it hit some debris or something, went off line and hit Ray," Coburn said.

Stevens shook his head when asked about the play.

"He's a big man and he's got to play better. He knows that," Stevens said.

Fleury made his best save of the game at 13:29 when Mika Pyorala intercepted a clearing attempt and fired a shot that Fleury gloved while fully extending his body across the crease.

The Flyers got within a goal on a 5-on-3 when Crosby was called for tripping and Staal for slashing Timonen. Briere started the play on the left side, firing a pass across to Pronger at the right point. Pronger passed low on the right boards to Richards who found Carter with a sharp pass in the slot and he easily beat Fleury at 16:59.

Kennedy's goal at 8:37 of the third restored the Penguins' two-goal lead and turned out to be the winner when Carter scored his second goal with 41 seconds left in regulation, finishing off a pass from Richards.

Emery finished with 20 saves and for a second-straight game was not sharp.

"By no means am I going to put the blame on Ray but I think he has looked sharper," Stevens said. "Across the board, we have to be sharper. For me, there has to be more urgency in our play and then these problems will go away."

The game ended with a scrum behind the Pittsburgh net after Richards crashed into Fleury in the crease. Kunitz and Pronger got 10-minute misconducts.

The Flyers had several close-in chances on Fleury but he was able each time to hold his ground, despite the Flyers' constant net crashing.

"They have a lot of skilled forwards and they like to take shots and then go hard to the net," defenseman Jay McKee said. "We knew that going in. They have a strong team and they're a problem around the net the whole game."

-- John McGourty, Staff Writer

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