Penguins Notebook: Kennedy scores first goal, but ...

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PHILADELPHIA -- Tyler Kennedy scored the Penguins' first goal of the season when he deflected a Paul Martin shot past Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at 4:40 of the opening period in their 3-1 victory Saturday against the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.


Some televised replays suggested that the puck actually went in off a defender who was dealing with Kennedy in front of the net, although Kennedy still was credited with the goal on the final score sheet.

Kennedy, for his part, said he wasn't certain whether he deserved it.

"I'm pretty sure I got something," he said. "I hit something, but I'm not sure [what], because his stick was right there."

History, at least, is on Kennedy's side. If the initial ruling stands, this will be the fifth consecutive season in which he has scored a goal in the first or second game.

Malkin's faceoffs improve

Evgeni Malkin has a point in each of his past 12 games in Philadelphia, so perhaps it's no surprise that he assisted on James Neal's game-winning goal at 7:20 of the first period.

Malkin set up Neal at the top of the left circle by controlling a faceoff, and Neal whipped the puck by Bryzgalov.

Malkin hardly has been a dominant force in the circle, having won 47.5 percent of his draws in 2011-12, but he has been improving, and coach Dan Bylsma pointed out that there are spots where he is particularly effective.

Spots such as the one where he won the draw in question.

"His success rating at the left faceoff circle in the offensive zone with James Neal behind him is pretty high," Bylsma said.

"I think he's done a pretty good job of changing his faceoff [success rate] from the low point of 30 percent two years ago and moved into the 45 [sic] percent last year, and he's really proficient in certain areas.

"I think he's much better then he was two years ago, and he's showing it."

Officially speaking

The game was not quite as ferocious as some between the Penguins and Flyers have been in recent years -- there was not a single major penalty or misconduct assessed -- and referees Kevin Pollock and Dennis LaRue were praised for their work.

They assessed five minors to the Penguins and three to Philadelphia, with a total of three being called in the final 5 1/2 minutes of regulation.

"I thought the officials did a good job," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "They were consistent.

"Word had gotten down to us that they were going to call the game down through the final second, and they held true to that."

Flyers winger Scott Hartnell echoed that assessment, even though a minor given to teammate Claude Giroux for tripping Penguins defenseman Kris Letang with 62 seconds left in the third period all but sealed the Penguins victory.

"I thought they did a good job," he said. "They let the hits go.

"They were letting us battle after the whistle a little bit. The penalties that were called, I think, were penalties.

"I didn't really see [Giroux's penalty] at the end. We had a big opportunity with a minute to go. I don't know if [Letang] just fell down or what. You can't fault [the officials], that's for sure."

A date with Asham

New York Rangers winger Arron Asham, who spent the previous two seasons with the Penguins, is expected to face his former teammates tonight when the Penguins visit Madison Square Garden.

Saturday, Asham finished serving a four-game suspension he got for attacking Flyers forward Brayden Schenn with his stick in the first round of the playoffs in April.

The Rangers will be the fifth Atlantic Division team for which Asham has played.

Fast facts

The Penguins scratched center Joe Vitale and defensemen Ben Lovejoy and Robert Bortuzzo. The Flyers' scratches were topped by forward Daniel Briere, who has a wrist injury. ... The Penguins went 35-27 on faceoffs but were outhit, 40-37.

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First Published January 20, 2013 5:00 AM


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