The Pittsburgh Penguins got new coach Dan Bylsma his first victory in their latest game, but if they're going to make the playoffs they'll need to keep playing better.
Their performances on the road can't get much worse.
The Penguins will kick off a weekend road trip Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, where a victory over the Flyers last month remains their only win away from home since the end of December.
Pittsburgh's management decided to fire Michel Therrien on Sunday, a day after the Penguins (28-25-6) gave up five third-period goals in a 6-2 loss at Toronto.
Therrien guided the team to its first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 15 years last season, but after a 15-6-4 start to 2008-09, Pittsburgh had gone 12-19-1, compiling the third-fewest points in the league in that stretch.
Bylsma didn't have much time to get the Penguins ready for their first game under his watch, and a Monday afternoon road meeting with the New York Islanders resulted in a 3-2 shootout loss, dropping them to 1-7-2 away from home since Jan. 1.
A 4-2 win at Philadelphia (31-16-9) on Jan. 13 was their only road victory in that stretch.
Pittsburgh returned home Thursday and played much better. Bylsma promised a more aggressive, up-and-down style that would play to the strengths of stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and the Penguins delivered with a 5-4 victory over Montreal.
"Our guys were energized, focused and ready to go," Bylsma said. "I think they had a real clear understanding of what was at stake and the way we wanted to play. While it wasn't perfect, I think they sent a message loud and clear."
Pittsburgh is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, four points out of a playoff spot, and it'll really have to improve on the road to have a chance to defend its conference title.
The Penguins have been outscored 41-25 in their last 10 on the road, going 3-for-37 (8.1 percent) on the power play. They play seven of their next eight away from Mellon Arena.
"We're not satisfied because we know there's a lot of work to do in front of us, but (the Montreal) win was definitely a big one for us," forward Max Talbot told the team's official Web site. "It's a long way, still 23 games to play and it's definitely going to be fun."
The Flyers, in second place in the Atlantic Division and nine points ahead of Pittsburgh, have 26 games left.
After a stretch where they went 2-3-0 while totaling 10 goals, the Flyers have won three straight and scored at least five in each of those victories.
Mike Richards led Philadelphia's latest scoring surge with the most productive game of his career. The Flyers' captain had two goals and three assists - his first five-point game - in a 6-3 rout of Buffalo on Thursday.
"He is an unbelievable player," said Braydon Coburn, who scored off a pass from Richards. "He is a heart and soul kind of guy, to score the kind of goals he scores. He's definitely our leader."
Richards, who missed three games earlier this month with the flu, has six goals and four assists in his last six.
Richards had a goal and two assists in a 6-3 home win over the Penguins on Dec. 13, but he hasn't had much success in the series recently. Other than those three points, Richards has two assists in Philadelphia's last eight regular-season games against Pittsburgh.
Malkin has seven goals and eight assists in his last nine against the Flyers.
Pittsburgh finishes the weekend trip Sunday afternoon with a matchup against Southeast Division-leading Washington.