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Petr Sykora scores twice as Penguins burst lead to 5-4 Ducks defeat

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PITTSBURGH - Petr Sykora scored twice and had an assist in his Pittsburgh home debut as the Penguins twice scored goals only seconds apart in a 5-4 victory over the road-weary Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.

Sykora, a longtime Penguins antagonist, while with New Jersey, put Pittsburgh up 4-3 by putting in a rebound of Georges Laraque's shot in front at 13:32 of third. After the ensuing faceoff, Sidney Crosby - getting his first point in two games - beat defenceman Chris Pronger to the puck and found Ryan Malone in the slot for Pittsburgh's second goal in 19 seconds.

The Penguins, the NHL's third highest-scoring team last season, scored only 20 seconds apart in the second period as Colby Armstrong and Evgeni Malkin each beat goalie Jonas Hiller to make it 3-2. Malkin had a goal and an assist and Gary Roberts had two assists.

In an unusual twist created by Anaheim's season-opening trip to London to split two games with the Kings, the Penguins' first home game was the Ducks' fifth game and third in four nights - all of them home openers for the opposing team. The Ducks lost in a shootout Wednesday at Detroit before looking visibly fatigued in a 4-0 loss Friday night at Columbus.

The Ducks played much better against Pittsburgh, but, with a 1-3-1 record, are off to a bad start a year after going 12-0-4 to start the season and 20-2-6 before eventually winning the Stanley Cup. They finally play Boston in their home opener Wednesday.

Anaheim, obviously not wanting to go home after such a long trip with so little to show for it, controlled much of the play early and took a 2-1 lead about 1???? minutes into the second period on Ryan Getzlaf's shot from the slot. Defenceman Francois Beauchemin grabbed a pass from Sergei Gonchar that deflected off teammate Colby Armstrong and passed to Getzlaf.

Armstrong made up for that on his next shift, putting an exceptional move on defenceman Maxim Kondratiev to set up his own goal. Skating through the left wing circle, Armstrong pushed the puck behind Kondratiev, gathered it again and wristed it by Hiller, who beat the Kings in London last Sunday for Anaheim's only victory.

Armstrong's deft move with 3:56 gone in the second period not only got the sellout crowd going, but it visibly picked up his own team. Malkin scored at 4:16, passing from behind the net to Sykora at the edge of the right circle, then took a giveback pass and stuffed it inside the left post.

Beauchemin figured in each of Anaheim's first three goals, twice setting up Chris Kunitz for goals.

The Penguins got a scare not long after Kunitz's first goal when a Beauchemin shot struck Crosby - last year's scoring champion and MVP - on the side of his right foot as Crosby wasn't looking. Crosby, whose left foot was broken late last season, was in considerable pain until play was stopped. He was bent over for several minutes on the bench, but returned not long after that.

Notes: The Penguins scratched LW Jarkko Ruutu, who took two first period penalties and was on the ice for Carolina's first goal in a 4-1 loss Friday. ... Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was back in net, making 19 saves, after being pulled with Pittsburgh down 4-0 after two periods Friday. ... The Penguins expect to sell out all 41 home games. Only scattered single tickets for some games are still available. ... Pittsburgh won its second home opener in a row after losing eight of nine before that. ... The Penguins opened their season by playing the last two Stanley Cup champions in successive nights.

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