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Strong opening period allows Pittsburg to defeat New Jersey

PITTSBURGH -- Pascal Dupuis scored 41 seconds into the game and the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins used a big first period to beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Friday night.

Also Friday, Tomas Kopecky scored the winning goal in the 10th round of the shootout, lifting the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 for its sixth straight victory.

In Pittsburgh, Chris Conner and Jayson Megna also scored in the first for Metropolitan-leading Pittsburgh, which has won seven of eight.

Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus scored 56 seconds apart early in the second period, but New Jersey couldn't find the net again to level the game.

After Pittsburgh took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, the Devils controlled the remainder of the game. But Marc Andre-Fleury was sharp, making 37 saves, to deny the visitors.

Perhaps his best saves came on Steve Bernier — twice, with a pad and then his stick while sprawling — with 14:40 to play in regulation. Fleury then denied Damien Brunner on a partial breakaway.

Dupuis' goal set the tone, coming off a misplay by Devils goaltender Cory Schneider.

Chris Kunitz carried the puck into the zone and flipped a fluttering puck on net as he crossed the blue line. Schneider had trouble covering it, and Dupuis eventually poked it in for his fifth of the season.

Conner then made it 2-0 at 7:55 when Brandon Sutter sprung him alone in the slot and he used a wrist shot beat Schneider for his second goal of the season.

Megna, a rookie in the lineup only because of injuries and the suspension of winger James Neal, scored for the second time in four games — his fourth overall — with 5:20 to play in the first.

Elias scored 3:24 into the second after a failed New Jersey power play. Zubrus then pushed a fluttering puck that was sitting on the goal line into the net after a Jaromir Jagr shot deflected off Megna's leg, making it difficult for Fleury to handle.

In Sunrise, Florida, Kopecky's goal went high over Philipp Grubauer and into the net. It came after the Panthers missed five previous chances to win the game during the shootout.

Jonathan Huberdeau, Brad Boyes, and Nick Bjugstad also scored in the tiebreaker for Florida. Aleksander Barkov and Dylan Olsen had the regulation goals, and Scott Clemmensen made 23 saves.

Eric Fehr, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mikhail Grabovski scored shootout goals for Washington. Joel Ward and Backstrom scored in regulation, and Grubauer stopped 39 shots.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, Roberto Luongo made 19 saves for his 65th career shutout as the Canucks outclassed the Oilers, despite Devan Dubnyk's 36 saves.

Daniel Sedin, Zack Kassian, Chris Higgins and Dale Weise scored for Vancouver with Jason Garrison adding three assists, and Ryan Kesler two.

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Pacers defeat Bobcats 99-94, up home record
Pittsburgh Penguins' Zach Sill, right, collides with New Jersey Devils' Anton Volchenkov during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh on Friday, Dec. 13.

(AP)

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