Penguins pin Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Denis Gauthier drives Pittsburgh Penguins' Mark Recchi into the...

Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Denis Gauthier drives Pittsburgh Penguins' Mark Recchi into the boards during their preseason NHL game at the John Labatt Centre in London on Sunday. (London Free Press/Mike Hensen)

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:12 AM ET

No Sid the Kid on the ice.

No Peter the Great in sight -- unless you happen to hold an extremely high opinion of Philadelphia Flyers forward Petr Nedved.

With Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby in a suit and tie and Philadelphia marksmen Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne nowhere to be seen, the Penguins skated to a rather ordinary 2-1 victory over the Flyers in an NHL preseason game before a sold-out -- but mostly muted -- crowd of 9,090 last night at the John Labatt Centre.

Pittsburgh veteran forward John LeClair, whose exhibition collision with teammate Evgeni Malkin earlier this week denied Londoners a shot at seeing the top-rated Russian rookie last night, popped the power-play game-winner with 4:46 left in the third period.

Malkin separated his shoulder and is expected to get a second opinion today on whether or not he requires surgery.

"Obviously, everyone wants to see . . . Malkin out there," LeClair said. "It was a freak thing when he ran into me and hopefully, he'll be back soon."

Pittsburgh goalie Jocelyn Thibault, who went the distance while top prospect Marc-Andre Fleury was scratched, provided the evening's biggest thrill when he prevented Philly's Mike Richards from tying it on a gorgeous left pad save with 3.6 seconds left in the third period.

"This is Rogie Vachon," Pens tough guy Andre Roy shouted joyously in the dressing room afterwards, conjuring up memories of another cat-like puckstopper from Quebec.

Thibault, who kicked aside 22 Philly shots to beat Flyers goalie Martin Houle, said the JLC ice is the best he's played on this preseason in the Pens cross-country excursion that also included stops in Halifax, Moncton and Hamilton.

"This is like a mini-NHL rink -- the people of London are spoiled to have a facility like this," he said. "It's been a long exhibition and we'll be happy to start the regular season. We've done a lot of travelling but that's been good because we have some guys here people want to see."

The Flyers didn't bring their top two puckstoppers -- Robert Esche and Antero Niittymaki -- and the game was devoid of much star power. There were some quality young guns such as London native Jeff Carter, Richards and Kyle Calder for the Flyers.

Still, the best guy on the ice was Pens veteran Mark Recchi, who sported a big, black eye but showed a lot of spunk for an exhibition game.

"You like to see those guys (the big names) in there but it leaves it up to the rest of us (to put on a show)," Carter said. "For me, it's always fun to come home and play. It's short. We came in (yesterday) and we're going back to Philly now."

Most folks were hoping to see Crosby, who interacted with fans during a morning function, since he has a history at the JLC and had something to prove in this building. The 19-year-old forward led the Rimouski Oceanic to the Memorial Cup final in 2005 but was shut down in the final by the hometown Knights.

But the chances of Crosby playing here diminished when he took part in his pre-season homecoming games in Halifax and Moncton last week. They were snuffed out completely when he suited up at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum on Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres and Pens head coach Michel Therrien has been reluctant to play his bread-and-butter in too many consecutive meaningless contests.

"It's been incredible to go through camp with him," former Soo Greyhounds captain and Pittsburgh prospect Tyler Kennedy said. "He's got unbelievable power in his legs and you just try to watch and learn from what he's doing. It's constant with him."

Strathroy's Don Van Massenhoven was one of the game's two referees along with Marc Joannette.

GAME GLANCE

Pens 2, Flyers 1

Pittsburgh goals: Ryan Stone, John LeClair

Philadelphia goal: Geoff Sanderson


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