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Jagr scores as Flyers beat Penguins 4-2

Pittsburgh Penguins' Jordan Staal, right, celebrates his first-period goal with Simon Despres (47) during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. Pittsburgh Penguins' Jordan Staal, right, celebrates his first-period goal with Simon Despres (47) during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
By Will Graves
AP Sports Writer / December 29, 2011
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PITTSBURGH—Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot both scored in their return to Pittsburgh, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Penguins on Thursday night.

Kimmo Timonen and Matt Read also scored for the Flyers, and Claude Giroux added two assists as Philadelphia ended the Penguins' four-game winning streak.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 shots for the Flyers, who improved to 4-0 at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center since the arena opened a year ago.

Tyler Kennedy had a goal and an assist for Pittsburgh, and Jordan Staal scored his 15th of the season, but the Penguins spent most of the night being dominated by their cross-state rivals.

Jagr and Talbot helped lead Pittsburgh to Stanley Cup titles during their careers, but they signed with the hated Flyers as free agents during the summer.

Talbot's decision was met with raised eyebrows, but little anger in Pittsburgh.

Jagr? Not so much.

Jagr became a star in Pittsburgh 20 years ago, helping the Penguins and star Mario Lemieux to back-to-back Cup titles in 1991 and `92. He played more than 800 games in a Pittsburgh uniform before being traded to Washington in 2001.

He went on to a stint with the New York Rangers, and then went to Russia's KHL.

More than 10 years after his final game wearing No. 68 for the Penguins he remains second in franchise history behind Lemieux in goals, assists and points.

While Jagr has been back to the city where his career started many times, this game felt different. The 39-year-old Jagr spent the last three years on a highly lucrative sabbatical in Russia before making overtures about returning to the Penguins for one last go-round.

Instead, he signed with the Flyers and spent the first two months of the season appearing not to have lost a step.

Jagr certainly looked like himself against his former team. Skating with authority and weaving his way through traffic flawlessly at times, the 1999 NHL MVP appeared to feed off the venom directed his way, his only real miscue coming early when he misfired on a wide-open net.

He atoned late in the second period with the game tied at 1. He took a pass from Giroux in the high left slot, fended off Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik while skating through the zone, and flipped a backhander past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Flyers the lead.

Jagr briefly raised his arms in triumph, then skated along the boards, offering a stone-faced to salute as the crowd erupted into another round of boos.

There wasn't nearly as much animosity directed at Talbot, who helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2009, scoring both of Pittsburgh's goals in a Game 7 victory over Detroit. The Penguins put together a brief video montage of Talbot's time with the team and showed it during an early stoppage in play.

Talbot responded with a wave to the crowd that included one fan hoisting a sign that said, "We still love you Max."

There were no such signs directed at Jagr. He tried to downplay his first game in Pittsburgh in more than three years, saying it was no different than a trip to Tampa Bay. Yet he seemed to relish the opportunity to silence the boo-birds.

His team quickly followed suit.

The Flyers gathered themselves after Staal's goal 46 seconds into the game gave Pittsburgh a quick lift.

Timonen's power play goal -- his first tally of the season -- tied the game midway through the first, and the Flyers clamped down on Pittsburgh's high-flying offense.

The Penguins have been steady even without injured star Sidney Crosby, who remains sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. Yet they have struggled against the league's top teams and have lost to Philadelphia (twice), Detroit, Boston and the New York Rangers in the last month.

NOTES: Defenseman Deryk Engelland and forward Steve MacIntyre were scratched for the Penguins. Defenseman Matt Walker and forwards Zac Rinaldo and Jody Shelley sat out for Philadelphia. ... The Penguins travel to New Jersey on Saturday while Philadelphia is off until Monday, when it hosts the New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Park in the annual outdoor NHL Winter Classic.

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