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Kennedy's OT tally gives Penguins 12th straight win

by Chris Adamski

PITTSBURGH -- About the only way the Philadelphia Flyers had tortured their bitter rivals more regularly than by ending their long winning streaks was by winning in their building.

Tyler Kennedy exorcized a couple of demons for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday -- and he kept them perfect in March in the process.

Kennedy scored 2:33 into overtime after Sidney Crosby had tied it with a 5-on-3 goal late in regulation and Pittsburgh extended its winning streak to an NHL season-high 12 games with a 2-1 victory against the Flyers.

"I knew it was in right off the bat," Kennedy said of his fifth goal of the season, a wicked wrister from the left circle that beat Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov high to the short side. "We're a pretty confident team right now. We know if we stay on the plan and do all the little things, we can be successful."

Even against a team they hadn't beaten in a meaningful regular-season game at their three-year-old home. Even against one that had snapped their winning streaks of 10 or more games during each of the prior two seasons.

Philadelphia came in 6-1 at Consol Energy Center, its only loss coming in a meaningless regular-season finale last April. The Flyers also won two of three first-round Stanley Cup Playoff games here.

Sunday's low-scoring affair was in stark contrast to the myriad shootouts the teams played in that wild series (56 goals in six games) and at other times over the past calendar year (10 goals apiece in splitting their two most recent meetings).

But Bryzgalov (33 saves) and Marc-Andre Fleury (27 saves) were sharp Sunday.

"We don't usually see that between me and him too often," Fleury said with a laugh. "So it was very nice to have a low-scoring game. I thought our team played great, didn't give them much. The shots were mostly from the outside, so not many scoring chances."

Bryzgalov was on his way to his second shutout of the season until Crosby scored for the 14th time this season with 6:14 left.

After Wayne Simmonds and Kimmo Timonen were penalized 23 seconds apart beginning with 7:08 left in regulation, it took 31 seconds for Crosby to strike.

"Three-on-five, it kind of killed us with that goal," Flyers forward Max Talbot said. "It's disappointing.

"It was right in our reach with six minutes to play there. We played a good road game. We kept it simple."

Claude Giroux scored a second-period power-play goal for Philadelphia, which is 2-5-1 in its past eight games and remained five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I thought out guys did a real good job," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "There weren't a lot of chances. We didn't generate a lot, either -- it was one of those tight-checking games. Our guys played hard ... it was good up until [the late penalties]."

Fleury has allowed one goal or fewer for four consecutive games, extending his personal winning streak to seven games. The Penguins, who acquired Brenden Morrow in a trade with the Dallas Stars earlier Sunday, have won nine in row at home.

For the third time over the past seven games of their streak, the Penguins were held without a goal for more than 50 minutes to begin the game. They came back to beat the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs in regulation two days apart less than two weeks ago by scoring three goals over the final eight minutes of each game.

Sunday, it took until 13:46 of the third for Pittsburgh to get on the board -- and it took a two-man advantage to do it.

"It felt like if we didn't get that, we were still getting chances 5-on-5," said Crosby, whose goal came on a one-timer from the right circle off a feed from Paul Martin.

The teams played scoreless hockey for 35 minutes and 51 seconds until Giroux scored for the second consecutive game.

While on Philadelphia's only power play of the game, Giroux gained the zone and had an attempt at a pass blocked and deflected right back to him. With Fleury leaning to his left, Giroux fired a wrist shot from not too far inside the blue line that beat him short side, just inside the left post.

It was Giroux's 10th goal of the season and 17th in 35 career games (counting the Stanley Cup Playoffs) against the Penguins.

"We didn't stray away from our game, and it paid off," Pens winger James Neal said. "It was a little more than 60 minutes, but that's OK.

"Huge goal by TK, but I like the way we played all night. We came out good and we kept going. That's big for our team."

Pittsburgh was again without Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) and Kris Letang (lower body) for the eighth and third straight games, respectively. The Flyers also were without one of their top forwards and one of their top defensemen -- Daniel Briere and Nicklas Grossmann sustained upper-body injuries during separate practices over the 36 hours prior to game time.

The game was the first in six days for the Flyers, who fell to 4-12-1 on the road and are in danger of missing the playoffs for just the second time in 18 seasons.

The Penguins came from behind to win for the ninth time and won by one goal for the eighth time during their winning streak, which before Sunday was tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for the longest in the League this season. Only two NHL streaks in the past 13 years went longer, and Pittsburgh holds the League record with a 17-game streak in 1993.

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