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Pens open season with revenge win over Flyers
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NHL lockout certainly didn't quell the disdain the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers have for one another.
The Atlantic Division denizens picked up right from last year's memorable first-round postseason series, with the Penguins getting a little bit of revenge.
Behind a strong performance by Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh opened the truncated campaign Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center with a 3-1 victory.
Fleury made 26 saves to earn his 227th career win, breaking a tie with Tom Barrasso for the most in franchise history.
James Neal, Tyler Kennedy and Chris Kunitz each had a goal for the Penguins, who were bumped off by their in-state rivals in six games last spring in a wild, high-scoring series. The two squads combined to score 56 goals, with the Penguins allowing 30.
The Flyers didn't fare as well in the next round as they were eliminated in five games by the eventual Eastern Conference-champion New Jersey Devils.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 24 shots for Philadelphia, while Claude Giroux lit the lamp in his debut as the Flyers' new captain.
Giroux drove the net and tapped in Scott Hartnell's saucer pass, cutting Pittsburgh's lead in half 23 seconds into the second period.
It remained a one-goal game until Kunitz hit an empty-net with 12 seconds to play in the third period.
"We knew it was going to be a little sloppy, everyone's still trying to get timing down," Neal said. "It's been a long time since we've been in a game situation. But no better way to start the season off than with a big win in Philly."
The Flyers couldn't capitalize on two power plays in the last 5:33 of the game.
Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland tried to create space for a teammate as Wayne Simmonds pressured on the forecheck, resulting in an interference penalty.
Reigning league MVP Evgeni Malkin went off for high-sticking with 2:27 to play, but the man-advantage was abbreviated by a Giroux tripping minor two seconds before the final minute.
"Special teams I think was the biggest difference," Hartnell said. "We had a lot of chances and we executed except for putting the puck in the net."
The Penguins scored two goals in the first period, with each tally set up by faceoff wins.
Brandon Sutter, acquired in a June trade that united Jordan Staal with his brother Eric in Carolina, cleanly won a draw against Giroux during a Pittsburgh power play.
Matt Niskanen dished to his defense partner Paul Martin and Kennedy tipped Martin's point shot past Bryzgalov at the 4:40 mark.
Malkin then pushed the puck back from the dot to Neal, who beat Bryzgalov from atop the left circle at 7:20.
Flyers center and first-round pick Scott Laughton made his NHL debut. Laughton was selected 20th overall by Philadelphia in the 2012 draft ... The Penguins have won five consecutive road openers ... This marked just the second time in the last eight seasons the Flyers opened at home.
01/19 19:37:07 ET