(Pittsburgh, PA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins scored on two of their first three shots and never looked back, in defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 7-1 on Sunday afternoon at Mellon Arena.
Evgeni Malkin led the way for the Penguins with two goals and two assists.
The Penguins led 3-0 well into the second period before the Flyers finally got on the board. Patrick Thoresen found a charging Mike Knuble for a tip-in goal at 12:43, bringing Philadelphia to within two goals.
It didn’t last very long, however, as the Penguins came back with two more before the break. Malkin got his second of the game, poking in a flubbed shot by Petr Sykora with 5:06 left, and Marian Hossa’s wrister beat Antero Niittymaki just 31 seconds later.
Two more third period goals from Pittsburgh capped the scoring.
The Flyers remain in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but are now just a single point ahead of Buffalo. Both teams have nine games remaining.
“We’ve got to play better, in all situations,” said Mike Richards. “It’s as simple as that. We have to be harder to play against and with more energy.”
Philadelphia also suffered its third injury in as many games, as R.J. Umberger left in the first period with a left MCL sprain and did not return. Defensemen Randy Jones (hip flexor) and Derian Hatcher (fractured right leg) were also out.
Umberger will be sidelined for a minimum of two weeks, while Hatcher is out for a month.
“It’s disappointing right now, more than anything,” said Umberger.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby missed the game with a lingering ankle injury, while recent addition Hossa came back after a six-game absence with a knee ailment.
Niittymaki came into the game after Pittsburgh’s third goal. Martin Biron, making his seventh straight start and 11th appearance in a row, stopped just five of the eight shots he faced as the Flyers fell behind.
Malkin’s first goal of the game opened the scoring, when his backhander beat Biron 4:33 after the opening faceoff. Sykora converted a pass through the slot by Pascal Dupuis at 8:38 to make it 2-0 at the end of the first. The Penguins had just four shots in the frame.
Tyler Kennedy’s goal at 4:14 of the second chased Biron.
“He’s played well against Pittsburgh all year, and we had this game targeted for him,” said John Stevens of the decision to start Biron. “He’s a guy we’ve been leaning on lately.”
“We’re in eighth place and we had a chance to gain some ground,” said Biron. “When you get taken out of the game and our playoff lives are on the line, you’re never happy about it.”
The Flyers won the first four games of the season series with the Penguins, but have lost the last two. The teams have two head-to-head matchups remaining; April 2 at Mellon Arena and April 4 at the Wachovia Center.
The Flyers return for three straight home games beginning on Tuesday night against Atlanta (7:00 p.m., Versus).
The Flyers are winless in their last four games (0-2-2). … Danny Briere’s five game point streak came to an end. … Lasse Kukkonen returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last seven games. … Scottie Upshall, Steve Downie and Denis Tolpeko did not play. Jim Dowd returned for the game after sitting out Saturday in Boston. … Philadelphia is 19-14-4 on the road. … The Flyers are 30-22-10 against the Eastern Conference and 11-11-2 against the Atlantic Division.
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