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Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar (left to right) celebrate Pittsburgh's first goal on Wednesday night. ((Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press))

The Pittsburgh Penguins scored early and then shut the visiting Philadelphia Flyers down for a 4-1 victory in the opening game of their Eastern Conference quarter-final on Wednesday night.

Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each had a goal and an assist in the game at Mellon Arena, with Tyler Kennedy and Mark Eaton both marking their first-ever playoff goals.

Marc-Andre Fleury, beaten late in the third by Simon Gagne, finished with 26 saves for the Pens.

Crosby credited the defence with limiting Philadelphia's chances and chipping in offensively.

"Eats isn't a guy who scores a lot during the regular season, but you see that a lot in the playoffs, and that's what it takes to win," he told Hockey Night in Canada.

The teams will face off in Game 2 on Friday night in Pittsburgh (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).

Penalty proves costly

The Penguins made Philadelphia pay for the first penalty of the game, scoring just 15 seconds later.

Malkin worked the puck down low to Crosby. The Penguins captain tipped the puck off the post, but Flyers netminder Martin Biron inadvertently put it in the net with the back of his pad.

Crosby praised defenceman Sergei Gonchar, who started the play and drew an assist.

Biron stood tall just seconds later, making a pad save when Jordan Staal burst in through the Philadelphia defence.

"I actually thought he was pretty solid in the net tonight. I thought he made some big saves early to give us a chance to stay in the game and try and regroup," Philadelphia coach John Stevens said.

Flyers captain Mike Richards nicked the crossbar and later, on a power play, was denied when Fleury moved laterally to make a pad save.

Pittsburgh scored on a somewhat disjointed three-on-one early in the second, with Kennedy opting to shoot and beating Biron between the legs.

"You can play stretches of the game and have control, but you need to be opportunistic," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

"We had the power-play [goal] in the first, we also got the goal by Tyler Kennedy somewhat early in the second, and it allowed us to be comfortable and play the game we wanted to play."

The Flyers flurried in the final seconds of the period with the man advantage but could not get a clear shot on net.

The power play continued into the third, with Richards again beating Fleury but hitting the post.

Philadelphia's penalty-killing abilities kept them in the contest. Scott Hartnell took his third minor penalty of the game early in the third, but the Flyers killed off their fourth straight disadvantage.

"I love Scotty Hartnell's emotion, but he's gotta find that line of discipline, and I really didn't think he did tonight," Stevens said.

"He's a guy we count on to kill penalties, and he's a guy we count on a lot, and he ends in the penalty box way too much. And that's something we're going to have to correct."

Philadelphia couldn't capitalize on their successful penalty kill, as Malkin picked up a loose puck off the boards and deked a sprawling Biron with a backhand move at the 6:28 mark.

Crosby's frequent Flyer points 

Fleury bobbled a shot midway through the period, but 45-goal-scorer Jeff Carter had too sharp an angle to convert on the rebound.

Eaton soon scored off a faceoff, with his point shot making its way through a crowd.

Crosby assisted on the goal and now has 23 goals and 32 assists in 32 career regular-season and playoff games against Philadelphia.

Fleury took a penalty for tripping, which helped lead to the end of his shutout bid. Richards yet again hit the post, but this time Gagne was on the spot to bat the puck back into the net.

Tempers began to flare late, with Ryan Parent of the Flyers cross-checking Staal into the boards on one play.

"As the game went on, I think it got more physical and [it was a] typical hockey game," Crosby said.

Biron finished with 29 saves in the game.

The franchises are meeting for the fifth time in the playoffs. Philadelphia won the first three series, but the Penguins eliminated the Flyers in five games last year in the Eastern Conference final.

Philadelphia hadn't lost in regulation at Mellon Arena in three regular season games this season (1-0-2).

Chris Kunitz played more than 13 minutes for Pittsburgh, continuing an eventful day that included the birth of his first child.