PHILADELPHIA – Mike Knuble and the Philadelphia Flyers are enjoying playing hockey again.
Knuble scored twice and the Flyers won their fourth straight game with a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
Philadelphia is 12-1-3 in its last 16 games and has secured 27 of a possible 32 points to move into second place in the Atlantic Division behind the New York Rangers.
“It’s fun to come in and pick up the paper and see us climbing in the standings,” Knuble said. “It’s two points that they can’t have and two more that we were able to get.”
Joffrey Lupul, Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell and Jeff Carter also scored, and Kimmo Timonen added a career-high four assists, as the Flyers extended their unbeaten streak at home in regulation to nine games (7-0-2).
“It was a chance to make a statement game at home and keep the momentum going,” Knuble said.
Jordan Staal, Eric Godard and Ruslan Fedotenko scored for the Penguins, who have lost four of their last five and fallen to third in the Atlantic standings.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby questioned the Penguins’ desire after the game.
“We obviously wanted a better effort,” he said. “It’s a big game in the standings. These are always intense games. We should always be ready for these games.”
Philadelphia goaltender Martin Biron stopped 23 shots to improve to 11-6-4.
Lupul said that he is “definitely” surprised that the Flyers have been able to climb so quickly out of the hole they dug with an 0-6 start to the season.
“We didn’t expect to put this kind of a run together, but then again we didn’t think that we deserved to start the season the way we did,” he said.
Dany Sabourin made 21 saves for Pittsburgh. He was playing for Marc-Andre Fleury, who has missed 13 games with a groin injury.
“The biggest thing in the last 15 games is that we are playing as a team,” Timonen said. “We’re forechecking well, getting back, and everybody is working hard.”
Penguins coach Michel Therrien said his team lacked energy.
“We were not good in every department,” he said. “The energy was not there and a lot of times when the energy is not there, the concentration is not there.”
Lupul and Knuble scored on power plays to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead after the first period.
Staal poked a backhander over Biron’s shoulder to bring the Penguins within 2-1 at 7:08 of the second period. It was his 10th goal.
The Flyers then scored twice in 2:29.
Richards, who also had two assists, extended his point scoring streak to seven games (six goals, six assists) with his 12th goal on a wrist shot from the crease at 10:09.
Hartnell fought off a Pittsburgh defender to poke in a shot from the slot for his 10th goal at 12:38.
Knuble scored his 200th NHL goal and 12th of the season on a deflection with 2:56 left in the period. It was the 24th two-goal game of his career.
Godard scored his first goal in 99 games dating back to Oct. 13, 2007, at Nashville at 11:06 of the third period.
Evgeni Malkin, who leads the NHL in scoring (12 goals, 37 assists), had an assist on the play to extend his point scoring streak to six games (2 goals, 8 assists).
Carter, who is second in the NHL in scoring, deflected Lupul’s shot into the net at 15:50 for his 21st goal.
Fedotenko, who also had an assist, scored on a power play with 1:35 left.
Notes: Philadelphia D Matthew Carle returned after missing five games with a back/rib injury and had two assists. … Pittsburgh D Kristopher Letang played in his 100th NHL game. … The Penguins had allowed only one goal in their previous 13 penalty-kills before the Flyers scored two in the first period and a total of four in the game. … The Flyers scored their three goals in the second period on only six shots. … Pittsburgh will play its next 10 games against Eastern Conference opponents. … The Penguins defeated the Flyers in their two previous games this season, 5-4 in a shootout, and 3-2 in overtime.