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Philadelphia
Flyers
42-29-11
Pittsburgh
Penguins
47-27-8

game recap

Penguins 4, Flyers 2

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

Associated Press

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Penguins 4, Flyers 2
Philadelphia Flyers 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 4

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Once the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Evgeni Malkin, then Sidney Crosby, they were convinced they would someday have two stars and a team to rival the Stanley Cup-winning days of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. What they couldn't predict was when.

That day, and the Penguins' first division title in 10 years, arrived on Wednesday night. And it came a lot sooner than even their coach expected.

Fittingly enough, it was Crosby and Malkin who scored the biggest goals of the Penguins' 4-2, power play-driven victory over the Philadelphia Flyers that earned them their first division championship since 1998 and sole possession of the Eastern Conference lead. They have 102 points to Montreal's 100, though the Canadiens have two games remaining to the Penguins' one.

"It's a great accomplishment to win the division because we all know that this division is really tough," coach Michel Therrien said of the Atlantic Division, which may supply half of the conference's eight playoff teams. "We went through a lot of adversity. We had a lot of injuries. We have come a long way from two years ago."

Then, even with Crosby in their lineup as a rookie, the Penguins finished last in the conference standings and next-to-last in the overall NHL standings. Now, only 24 months removed from that 58-point season, they could own home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs.

In other NHL games, it was: Chicago 6, Detroit 2; New Jersey 3, Boston 2 in a shootout; and Carolina 6, Tampa Bay 2.

Remarkably, they've accomplished this with Crosby sitting out about one-third of the season with a high ankle sprain and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury missing half of it with the same injury. Gary Roberts, their most playoff-tested player, has been out since late December because of multiple leg injuries.

With all of this on top of a sluggish 8-11-2 start, Therrien gladly would have settled for making the postseason.

"We were just trying to focus and maintain our position to make the playoffs," Therrien said. "The guys surprised me with their commitment."

Apparently, they didn't surprise themselves.

"Everyone knew we could do it. It (adversity) is something every team goes through," Jordan Staal said. "This team has such great talent and just went on a roll."

 

Crosby had not scored at home since Jan. 3 when he tied it at 2 in the second period, with the Penguins owning a two-man advantage created when Crosby took Scott Hartnell's charging penalty. Crosby got a second goal, the 24th of his shortened season, late in the third on another power play.

Before that, Malkin gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead with his 47th goal - and one of his most difficult. Visibly tired after being on the ice for 1 1/2 minutes of a power play, Malkin swooped in from center ice after two Flyers collided in their own end, grabbed the puck and beat goalie Martin Biron cleanly on a wrist shot.

It was a potentially costly loss for the Flyers, who fell into eighth place in the conference, a point behind Boston and only one ahead of Washington. The Flyers have home games remaining Friday against New Jersey and Sunday against Pittsburgh.

The Flyers tried to set a physical tone while taking a 2-1 lead in a first period that featured two fights, four more skirmishes and a lot of back-and-forth jawing. But the Flyers repeatedly hurt themselves by taking retaliatory penalties, and Pittsburgh took advantage by going 4-for-6 on the power play to Philadelphia's 1-for-5.

"I thought the guys played hard, they were wrapped up on the bench, almost too wrapped up at times because things aren't getting called, and emotions run away," coach John Stevens said.

Or, as Crosby said, exactly what the Penguins were intent on avoiding, something they've done while winning their past three games against the Flyers after dropping their first four.

"It takes getting used to," Crosby said. "You have to learn to make sure you're focused on what you need to do out there. It took me a period to realize that and not get caught up in it."

Rookie Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists, and host Chicago kept its slim playoff hopes alive.

The Blackhawks, who won their third straight, must win their final two games to have any chance of reaching the postseason.

Cam Barker, Jordan Hendry, Robert Lang, Dustin Byfuglien and Adam Burish also scored for the Blackhawks, who dealt the Red Wings their first regulation loss in seven games (5-1-1).

Henrik Zetterberg and Kirk Maltby scored for the Red Wings.

Zach Parise scored the only goal in a four-round shootout and host New Jersey topped Boston for its third straight win.

Martin Brodeur stopped Bruins shooters Glen Metropolit, Phil Kessel, David Krejci and Marco Sturm in the first four rounds, setting up Parise's duel with Tim Thomas.

The Bruins inched closer to a playoff spot, earning a point for the sixth straight game (3-0-3) on goals by Dennis Wideman and Milan Lucic.

Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson scored for the Devils, with Clarkson's goal with 5:28 left in regulation forcing an entertaining overtime that featured 10 shots.

Chad LaRose scored three goals to lead Carolina past Tampa Bay, moving the host Hurricanes within one win of the Southeast Division title.

Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu each had a goal and an assist, and Scott Walker also scored for Carolina, which broke a 1-all tie by scoring four straight goals. The Hurricanes lead Washington by two points in the Southeast race with one game left. The Capitals have two games remaining.

Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist, Jeff Halpern scored and Mike Smith stopped 26 shots for last-place Tampa Bay.

scoring summary
1st Period
08:58
PHI
Scott Hartnell (24) ASST: Daniel Briere (41), Vinny Prospal (37)
1 - 0 PHI
10:24
PIT
PPG - Sergei Gonchar (12) ASST: Sidney Crosby (48), Evgeni Malkin (59)
1 - 1 Tie
13:13
PHI
PPG - Jeff Carter (29) ASST: Joffrey Lupul (26), Braydon Coburn (27)
2 - 1 PHI
2nd Period
06:26
PIT
PPG - Sidney Crosby (23) ASST: Sergei Gonchar (52), Marian Hossa (36)
2 - 2 Tie
14:33
PIT
PPG - Evgeni Malkin (47) ASST: Ryan Whitney (28)
3 - 2 PIT
3rd Period
18:26
PIT
PPG - Sidney Crosby (24) ASST: Sergei Gonchar (53), Marian Hossa (37)
4 - 2 PIT
penalty summary
1st Period
02:22
PHI
Riley Cote  Fighting (maj) against  Georges Laraque
02:22
PIT
Georges Laraque  Fighting (maj) against  Riley Cote
09:59
PHI
Jeff Carter  Roughing against  Hal Gill
11:37
PIT
Hal Gill  Tripping against  Joffrey Lupul
13:13
PHI
Joffrey Lupul  Fighting (maj) against  Brooks Orpik
13:13
PIT
Brooks Orpik  Fighting (maj) against  Joffrey Lupul
14:06
PHI
Lasse Kukkonen  Roughing against  Sidney Crosby
14:06
PIT
Sidney Crosby  Roughing against  Lasse Kukkonen
2nd Period
06:07
PHI
Braydon Coburn  Holding against  Evgeni Malkin
06:07
PHI
Scott Hartnell  Charging against  Sidney Crosby
08:28
PIT
Brooks Orpik  Delay of game
08:28
PHI
Scott Hartnell  Roughing against  Brooks Orpik
10:22
PIT
Hal Gill  Hooking against  Mike Richards
12:58
PHI
Jim Dowd  Hooking against  Sidney Crosby
15:08
PHI
Daniel Briere  Roughing against  Jarkko Ruutu
15:08
PIT
Jarkko Ruutu  Interference against  Daniel Briere
19:24
PIT
Georges Laraque  Roughing against  R.J. Umberger
3rd Period
02:55
PIT
Marian Hossa  Hooking against  Patrick Thoresen
07:08
PHI
Jason Smith  Cross checking against  Ryan Malone
10:05
PHI
Scott Hartnell  Roughing against  Jarkko Ruutu
10:05
PIT
Jarkko Ruutu  Roughing against  Scott Hartnell
11:42
PIT
Sergei Gonchar  Hooking against  Daniel Briere
17:12
PHI
Mike Knuble  Hooking against  Sidney Crosby
goalie stats
Martin Biron
SA: 29TOI: 58:39
Saves: 25EV: 23 - 23
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 6
SV%: .862SH: 0 - 0
Marc-Andre Fleury
SA: 29TOI: 60:00
Saves: 27EV: 20 - 21
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 5
SV%: .931SH: 3 - 3