For Penguins, a gratifying win in hostile environment

For Penguins, a gratifying win in hostile environment
January 20, 2013, 1:36 am
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As far as the Penguins were concerned, there was no better way to start their season than with what they accomplished Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center: A 3-1 victory over their cross-state rivals.

Especially with the way we finished off the season last year here in Philly, said Pens winger James Neal. It was a tough loss. We knew it wasnt going to be easy coming here, and like I said, it was a good way to start off.

Flyers fans held up their end of the deal Saturday, greeting the Penguins with a chorus of boos as they entered the ice for warmups and getting especially vocal whenever Sidney Crosby touched the puck or got involved in a scuffle.

But it was the Penguins who had the final say. They took the lead less than five minutes after the puck dropped, and never let the Flyers tie it up.

Both teams showed signs of rust, but the Penguins were the group that was more mentally ready from the get-go. While it took the Flyers more than half of the first period to get into a rhythm, the Penguins seemed to have used the rivalry and the way their season ended last year in the same building to get prepared.

Coming into Phillys always a tough game, and we knew that, Neal said. So no better way to start off with the way things ended here last year with the playoffs. Its a big win.

The true difference-maker in the game? The power play. The Pens were 2 for 4 on the man advantage, while the Flyers went scoreless on all of their five chances.

Yeah definitely, Crosby said. Our penalty kill has always been good. We had some good bounces, Marc-Andre Fleury had some good saves, we made some good shots and blocks. We worked hard out there and did what we had to do to kill those off.

There was a bright side for the Flyers, though: They did keep Crosby scoreless. Theres something to be said for that, too Crosby has had a point in 21 of his 28 career games in Philly.

But the way they see it, the Penguins now may have the upper hand in the season series. The two teams will face each other three more times in this lockout-shortened 48-game season. Next up: Feb. 20 in Pittsburgh.

"Winning is a good thing," Crosby said. "So, were glad, and well make some adjustments. But, for the most part I thought that we did a good job.

E-mail Sarah Baicker at sbaicker@comcastsportsnet.com

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