Philadelphia • Whenever the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers meet on the ice, a football-style shootout breaks out. This time, the Penguins scored last.
Chris Kunitz scored his second goal just 18 seconds into the third period to cap a four-goal rally that lifted Pittsburgh to a 5-4 victory over the Flyers on Thursday night.
Pascal Dupuis, James Neal and Tyler Kennedy also scored for the Atlantic Division leaders, who won their third straight game.
The teams have combined for 20 goals in their last two games after a memorable, high-scoring playoff round in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last spring.
"We knew it would be a challenging game," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "It was kind of a tale of two teams in the first two periods. We didn’t come out with enough emotion and weren’t really into the game. Maybe they got caught sitting back in the second."
Players’ union OKs realignment plans • The NHL Players’ Association announced Thursday its approval of the league’s realignment proposal, which would begin next season pending a vote next week by the board of governors.
The plan would eliminate the two-conference, six-division setup that has been in place since 1998-99 and replace it with a two-conference, four-division setup, with teams more geographically aligned.
The reshuffling was spurred by complaints from Western Conference teams about heavy travel.
Under the plan, the Eastern Conference would have 16 teams, the Western Conference 14.
Columbus and Detroit, two teams in the Eastern time zone but currently in the Western Conference, would join the clubs in the Eastern time zone.
Vancouver, Minnesota and other teams in the West will have their travel burdens significantly eased by the new setup.
In the Eastern Conference, a division tentatively labeled the Atlantic would include the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Carolina and Washington.
A Northeast division would group Boston, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay. The Panthers and the Lightning would benefit from the substantial number of Canadians and Northerners living in Florida who attend games when their hometown teams are visiting.
In the Western Conference, a Central division would contain Chicago, Nashville, Minnesota, St. Louis, Winnipeg, Colorado and Dallas. The Jets are currently in the Southeast Division, an inconvenience caused by the Atlanta Thrashers’ move to Winnipeg before the start of last season.
A Pacific division would have Phoenix, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
The realignment plan leaves room for adjustments should a team like the Coyotes move from Phoenix to one of two rinks being built in Seattle and Quebec City.
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