Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – Claude Giroux’s short-handed goal in the third period lifted the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the season-opening game for both teams.
This was the first regular-season game at Pittsburgh’s new arena, Consol Energy Center. The Penguins had played at Mellon Arena, known more commonly as "The Igloo", since entering the league in 1967.
Blair Betts and Danny Briere also scored for the Flyers, who started rookie Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes. In his NHL debut, Bobrovsky made 29 saves.
Tyler Kennedy and Alex Goligoski tallied in the losing effort.
Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury allowed three goals on 27 shots.
These two teams have combined to win the last three Eastern Conference titles. The Pens won the East in both 2007-08 and ‘08-’09 before the Flyers unexpectedly captured the title last spring. Philly lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Flyers’ goaltending situation, always an area of concern for the franchise, became unstable during the final stretch of the preseason when starter Michael Leighton injured his back — he is expected to miss the first month of the season. Brian Boucher, however, gave way to Bobrovsky.
Pittsburgh was ousted in the second round of the playoffs last season. They lost Game 7 at home to Montreal.
The Flyers opened the scoring with a power-play goal at the 2:51 mark of the second period. A hooking minor called on Deryk Engelland led to a faceoff inside the right circle. Captain Mike Richards gained control at the right point and sent a hard pass to the area below the right circle, where a deflection by Briere hit the back of the net.
Several minutes later, Pittsburgh was on the power play but Bobrovsky made two key saves, including a paddle stop on Sidney Crosby near the left post. With just under nine minutes remaining in the second period, Bobrovsky stopped Mark Letestu on a rebound try from the top of the crease.
Later in the second, Pittsburgh was awarded a power play at the 12-minute mark but again came up empty, then held the Flyers in check when they skated 5-on-4 soon after.
However, only 15 seconds after the Flyers power play expired, Betts tapped in a rebound at the right post for a 2-0 lead. James van Riemsdyk pushed a wrister toward the net from above the left circle and the puck deflected off the stick of Darroll Powe in close before Fleury got a piece of it. The rebound, though, kicked loose and Betts was all alone for the easy marker at 17:15.
It took 44 seconds of play in the third for the Pens to cut into their deficit. Paul Martin skated down the right-wing side and sent a backhanded flip pass across the low slot for Kennedy, who corralled the disc on the forehand and ripped home a wrister from a sharp angle below the left circle.
Martin, though, was part of a broken play which led to Philadelphia’s third goal. During a Pittsburgh power play, Kris Letang sent a soft drop pass in his own zone intended for Martin, who failed to control the puck. Giroux used a pokecheck to free the puck in the high right slot, skated past Martin, hustled in alone on a short breakaway and deked to his forehand to beat Fleury.
The battle became more interesting when the Penguins answered just 19 seconds later. A wrister from the centerpoint made its way through several bodies in front and skipped under the pads of the screened Bobrovsky. Goligoski was credited with a power-play goal, as the lamp was lit with one second remaining on the man-advantage.
Philadelphia kept the pressure in its offensive zone for a majority of the final frame, but the Penguins did produce several good chances for the equalizer. With under six minutes remaining, Letang had a look from the centerpoint, but his blast was deflected. Near the 18-minute mark, Pascal Dupuis unleashed a slap shot from the high slot that appeared to hit a part of the post before it ricocheted into the netting above the playing surface.
With 1:13 to play, Betts was whistled for hooking and Fleury was pulled for a 6-on-4 Pittsburgh advantage, but Bobrovsky and the Flyers held on for the win.
The Flyers improved to 20-16-7 all-time in season openers and 19-14-7 in road openers…This marked the sixth time that the Flyers opened their season against Pittsburgh…The last time the Flyers participated in the first regular season game of a new arena was in Minnesota when the Wild opened Xcel Energy Center in 2000…The last NHL goaltender to win his first career game was Jon Bernier (9/29/07 versus Anaheim)…Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger did not play. He had right knee surgery in the offseason and is still recovering. Pronger could return to the lineup within 10 days…Pittsburgh center Jordan Staal will miss the first six weeks after he underwent foot surgery to cure an infection…The Penguins were 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Flyers ended 1-for-4 with the extra skater.