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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Philadelphia Flyers held off a furious Pittsburgh Penguins rally to post a 2-1 win at Mellon Arena on Saturday.

The loss was the ninth in the row for the Penguins (11-28-9). Nevertheless, they gave a strong effort, but could not overcome the Flyers with a wild finish. The Penguins had a flurry of scoring chances late in the game, but could not convert for the tying goal.

“We played a strong game .We’re all competing; we’re battling for each other. We’re not getting too many breaks,” Penguins rookie Sidney Crosby said. “For us, we just have to continue to do this and stay with it. I think every guy is batting for each other in here and that’s huge. Everyone is pulling the same way right now, so eventually it’s going to turn around.

“We competed hard. For the way we competed, we have to be proud of that,” he continued. “We’re all learning; we have a lot of guys who are still learning. We’re learning as a team, so we have to continue to work hard.”

Penguins coach Michel Therrien was happy with his team’s play.

“The guys are following the plan. They are really buying into the system. The work ethic is there for everybody to see. For us, we have to concentrate on the things we’re doing right. That’s the right thing to do,” he said. “The commitment is there from everyone. They are a fun bunch of guys to work with right now because they are committed to their jobs. But, the only thing we don’t have is the result. The result is not there.

“They battled. We want to bring the identity when teams play against us, they know we are going to work and we are going to be tough to play against. This is what we’re trying to do now.”

Pittsburgh native R.J. Umberger, a rookie, scored a power-play goal 5:51 into the game to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. His shot close to the far post just trickled through Marc-Andre Fleury.

The score remained until 5:56 left in the game when Jeff Carter wristed a shot past Fleury on a two-man advantage.

The Penguins responded with 3:49 remaining. Colby Armstrong deflected Sergei Gonchar’s pass past Robert Esche to trim the deficit to 2-1.

Pittsburgh had a barrage of shots and scoring chances in the final two minutes, but Esche and the Flyers denied them all.

Esche, who missed nearly a month with an injury, returned to the ice and stopped 32 of 33 Penguins shots.

“He was good. He made some key saves,” Therrien said. “He’s a good goalie and he’s a veteran guy and those guys know how to prepare when they are off for such a long time.”

Fleury stopped 24 of 26 Flyers shots in the loss.

The Penguins return to action Monday as they complete the home-and-home series in Philadelphia.

ICE CHIPS: Josef Melichar, Ric Jackman and Lyle Odelein were the Penguins’ healthy scratches…Kim Johnsson, Peter Forsberg and Brian Savage were the Flyers’ healthy scratches…The announced attendance was 17,132.

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