Flyers Win Convincingly in Pittsburgh; You Breathe Sigh of Relief

Flyers Win Convincingly in Pittsburgh; You Breathe Sigh of Relief

Big breaths, nice and slow.

The Flyers not only dispensed of their division rivals in a fashion
that made the opponent seem rather ordinary, but they managed to gain a
point on the next closest conference rival. With a solid 5-2 victory
over the Penguins, the orange and black have all but solidified their
crown in the Atlantic Division, not to mention kept pace atop the
Eastern Conference.

The Pens came out with an unusual approach to open the game, hitting
everything that moved. Pittsburgh has gained a reputation in these parts
for being a soft team since Sidney Crosby became a household name, but
they were aggressive from the jump. Within two minutes, you could tell
one of the primary goals was to play a physical style of hockey.

It worked... for awhile.

Pitt definitely outplayed the good guys in the first period. They
were creating collisions, causing turnovers, and generally out-hustling
the Flyers. The good guys were lucky to get out of the gate tied at one.
As a Philly power play came to an end, Braydon Coburn flipped a shot on
goal from the point that hit the post. The ricochet kicked off of the
back of netminder Marc-Andre Fleury's skate, and into the goal to even
the score.

The Penguins continued to give Philly trouble into the second, with a
seemingly endless supply of odd-man rushes that eventually led to a 2-1
lead. It would be their last.

Signaling their power play struggles may be coming to an end against
one of the two best penalty killing teams in the NHL, the Flyers worked
the puck in the zone for the better part of a minute before Scott
Hartnell punched a wrap-around by Fleury to knot the game at two. At
this point, the game was getting chippy, as Brooks Orpik railed Harty
into the net well after the disc found twine.

The attitude wore off rather quickly. Less than a minute later,
Andrej Mazaros gained the zone on a feed from Sean O'Donnell, and found
Claude Giroux as he stormed the blue line. Giroux beat a Penguin
defender to his right, and sent a wrister the other way over Fleury's
blocker to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead in period two.

And that was all she wrote. The Flyers began to play conservatively,
and Pittsburgh appeared to get tired. Ville Leino added a pair of goals
in the final frame, and is one away from being the seventh club member
to reach 20 goals.

Meanwhile, the Capitals lost to the Hurricanes in a shootout, which
puts Washington three points behind the lead in the Eastern Conference.

Goes without saying this was an important win, but not just due to
the standings. The Flyers played a complete game tonight. They responded
to a team that wanted to play physical. They scored goals, on the power
play and from behind. Then when they finally got the lead, they shut it
down defensively while pouring it on at the other end.

It's almost time for some playoff hockey.

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).