Ottawa Senators goalie Ray Emery looks over his shoulder as the puck sails into the net on a shot by the Philadelphia Flyers Jim Dowd, not pictured, in the second period of a hockey game Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008, in Philadelphia. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Tom Mihalek
PHILADELPHIA - Bryan Murray's move down from the front office couldn't change the result for the sputtering Senators.
Mike Knuble scored twice to spoil Murray's return behind the Ottawa bench and lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-1 win on Thursday night.
Murray, also the Senators general manager, coached the team for the first time since the Anaheim Ducks eliminated Ottawa in last year's Stanley Cup finals.
Murray took over Wednesday after he fired John Paddock, who failed to sustain Ottawa's early-season burst and paid with his job in less than a season.
"I see lots of things that have to be done, but it's kind of where the action is and I didn't mind it," Murray said. "It's not something that I was really looking forward to doing, but in a couple of days, I'll feel better about it, I think."
Jason Spezza scored for Ottawa but celebrated a bit longer than Flyers goalie Martin Biron thought was necessary.
Biron shoved Spezza in the back, then the chest. Words were exchanged and the Ottawa centre was tossed.
"We had a bit of a nasty edge in our play and I think that's the way we have to play the rest of the year," Biron said.
The Senators won 15 of their first 17 games and were first in the Eastern Conference until last weekend, when they were passed by New Jersey.
"When you lose some games and the pressure mounts, and it's mainly pressure from within, it's hard to play, it's hard to relax, it's hard to coach," said Murray, who will remain as GM.
The pressure will surely build after their seventh loss in nine games and 15th in 22. They've lost three straight, though Spezza's 25th goal prevented the Senators from getting shut out for the third consecutive time.
"We weren't as co-ordinated as I'd like to see and I think we will be," Murray said. "As far as attitude and that, the guys were good. It's just disappointing that we can't score more than one goal."
Knuble scored twice in the third period and Jim Dowd also had a goal for the Flyers. Kimmo Timonen recorded two assists.
Knuble scored his 23rd goal only 41 seconds into the third for a 2-1 lead.
He followed shortly after with an insurance goal, helping the Flyers win their second straight after a 10-game losing streak (0-8-2). Scottie Upshall grabbed the loose puck off a faceoff and took a shot on Ray Emery at close range. The puck bounced off Ottawa's goalie and was aided in both by charging Senators defenceman Wade Redden, who crashed into the net, and Knuble.
The Flyers played video ads for playoff ticket renewals and deposits, an ambitious request for a team that started the night on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff race. More games like this one will have the Flyers playing meaningful games in March and April.
"We're still in control and that's the positive thing," Flyers centre Danny Briere said. "Hopefully we can get it done here at home."
Spezza snapped a scoreless game with a power-play goal early in the second. Spezza blocked Biron's view and deflected the puck off Andrej Meszaros' shot from just inside the blue-line.
Spezza turned his back to Biron and raised his arms, but Biron shoved him in the back. Spezza spun around and Biron pushed him again in the chest. Flyers and Senators converged in front for a brief skirmish.
"I even had time to think about it, that's how long it took," Biron said. "I decided to push him in the numbers. That means he was there for a little while, yeah."
Biron earned a roughing penalty, and Spezza was hit with a fighting major and was ejected.
Murray said he was "dumbfounded" that Spezza was tossed after the centre was the one who was hit from behind.
"I thought in an incident like that, it certainly didn't have to be a game misconduct," Murray said.
Dowd tied it late in the period with a slap shot from the circle. The goal was Dowd's fourth of the season and first in 21 games.
Notes: Daniel Alfredsson, who leads the Senators with 35 goals and 75 points, said the coaching change hadn't sunk in yet. "It's still a bit shocking, to be honest," he said. ... Vaclav Prospal (Flyers) and Martin Lapointe (Senators) each made their debuts with their new teams after they were acquired this week in trades.