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Fleury leads Pens to 2-0 win over Flames

by Brian Compton
Though the Stanley Cup Playoffs are still a couple of weeks away, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Calgary Flames treated the fans in the Steel City to a playoff-type game on Wednesday night.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 31 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season as the Pens grabbed sole possession of sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-0 victory at Mellon Arena. Fleury has allowed only 20 goals in 11 starts this month.

The victory moved the Penguins two points ahead of the idle New York Rangers. Pittsburgh stayed one point behind No. 5 Carolina and moved within two of No. 4 Philadelphia.

''It's like playoff hockey right now, with how that game was,'' Fleury said after Pittsburgh improved to 4-1-1 on a franchise-record eight-game homestand. ''Every goal was big and every save was big.''

The Flames -- playing at Mellon Arena for the first time since Dec. 5, 2005 -- remained three points ahead of idle Vancouver atop the Northwest Division. Calgary went 0-for-5 on the power play, including a four-minute chance that spanned the second intermission after Evgeni Malkin was penalized for high-sticking Jim Vandermeer.

''The difference for us was not being able to score on the power play,'' Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. ''When you get five opportunities and you come up with nothing, you're not going to win a hockey game on the road.''

Kris Letang scored what proved to be the game-winner just 8:20 into the contest, when he took a pass from Sidney Crosby and slammed a shot past Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

Letang has four goals this month and eight in his past 24 games. He has 10 points in 14 games under interim coach Dan Bylsma. The Penguins are 13-2-3 since Bylsma took over for the fired Michel Therrien on Feb. 15.

''Everyone's contributing right now, that's the big thing,'' Pens forward Jordan Staal said. ''That's playoff hockey, and that's what we're looking for.''

After a scoreless second period, Hal Gill gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead with a rare goal at 6:43 of the third. The 6-foot-7 defenseman had only 31 goals in 845 career games, and just two this season.

But after Malkin carried the puck down the right wing into the Calgary end, the Russian star dropped it off to Gill, who let go a gorgeous wrist shot from the right circle that beat Kiprusoff into the top left corner, just under the crossbar and inside the post.

When asked if he had a particular spot in mind when he let the puck go, Gill joked, ''Yep, the net.'

''It's fun to score goals,'' he added. ''These guys like Geno (Malkin) do it all the time, but you know, for me, it doesn't happen very often.''

Fleury denied Curtis Glencross at least three times throughout the course of the game on chances from in front of the net. Another of Fleury's better saves was on Mike Cammalleri on a rebound of Olli Jokinen's shot. Jokinen was held to just two shots on goal in nearly 23 minutes of ice time.

''Special teams are a big part of it, and they beat us in that area tonight,'' Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. ''For the most part it was a one-goal game the whole time, and if we get one there (on the four-minute power play) going into the third, 1-1 is a solid spot to be in on the road. And we didn't get it done.''

"It's like playoff hockey right now, with how that game was. 'Every goal was big and every save was big." -- Marc-Andre Fleury
Bylsma was certainly pleased with the way of his No. 1 goalie, but also credited his entire defense.

"Fleury played very well tonight," Bylsma said. "He was solid. He made some big saves, but the guys played very hard in front of him. We battled around him. We limited their scoring chances, mostly to the outside. It was a great job by our goaltender, but it was a great job by our team defense as well."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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