The Pittsburgh Penguins were in search of a good start to the 2006-07 season.
They found it Thursday night at Mellon Arena.
Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins shut out the rival Philadelphia Flyers, 4-0, in front of 16,957 screaming fans.
“We’re happy. It’s one and I think we have to take some things that are good and bad out of this,” Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. “We have to take the fact that we found a way to win and everyone contributed to it.”
The Penguins (1-0) also found a way to stave off external distractions as well on former superstar Mario Lemieux’s birthday with his number raised to the rafters for the first time since his retirement last season.
In addition, Jim Balsillie, who signed a purchase agreement to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins, was in attendance for the contest.
“We had out focus on the game. It would have been easy to have our focus elsewhere, but we prepared pretty long time to start the season well,” Crosby said. “We had a pretty good game.”
Michel Ouellet roofed a shot past Robert Esche for a 1-0 lead with 13:14 left in the period. Streaking down the slot, his wrister from the top of the circle found the back of the net. Jarkko Ruutu had the assist.
Ruutu banged home an Ouellet rebound with 10:26 remaining in the period for a 2-0 Penguins advantage. Ouellet’s shot ricocheted off Esche’s leg pad and Ruutu reached around a defender and tapped the puck into the net before he was knocked off his skates. Dominic Moore added an assist.
The Penguins killed off more than four consecutive penalty minutes to close the first half with the 2-0 advantage.
Crosby beat Esche short side for a goal 1:57 into the second period. Nils Ekman and Rob Scuderi assisted on the play. Scuderi slipped a pass to Ekman along the near boards and he sent a pass up to Crosby. Streaking down the near side, he cut to the net and flipped the puck into the goal.
Josef Melichar pushed Pittsburgh lead to 4-0 with 2:54 left in the second. The goal came on the Penguins’ 11th shot of the game. Crosby fired a pass to the slot. After the puck deflected off a stick, Melichar collected it and fired it into the net. Colby Armstrong added an assist.
Fleury turned away all 40 shots he faced to record the shutout.
The Penguins return to action Saturday at Mellon Arena against the Detroit Red Wings.
ICE CHIPS: Sidney Crosby, Sergei Gonchar and Mark Recchi served as alternate captains…Colby Armstrong and Nolan Baumgartner fought in the early minutes of the second period after Armstrong delivered a punishing check to Sami Kapanen.