PHILADELPHIA - Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal each scored goals, and Sidney Crosby had a pair of assists that sparked the sputtering Pittsburgh Penguins to a needed 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
The Penguins won for only the second time in nine games and scored four straight goals to put an emphatic end to Philadelphia's eight-game home winning streak. They also got goals from Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke, and Marc-Andre Fleury nicely rebounded from a first-period blunder to stop 27 shots.
Pittsburgh played the first two periods more like the team that beat the Flyers in last year's Eastern Conference finals than the one that came in stuck in an alarming slump that left them outside a playoff spot.
The Flyers skated to the top of the Atlantic Division on the strength of their longest home winning streak since 2005. The Flyers hadn't lost at home in regulation this season since Nov. 8, and they jumped on the Penguins with an early goal and another sellout crowd taunted Crosby every time he touched the puck.
The Penguins, though, sorely needed this win against their division rivals to stop their slide down the standings. This win helps for now, but they'll need to string together a few more like this one before Pittsburgh can say it's ready to think about a repeat of its stirring Stanley Cup run.
Perhaps the Penguins can take some inspiration from last year's Flyers, who overcame a 10-game winless streak to reach the East finals.
Fleury was touched for a goal in the first period when he strayed behind the net on a shot against the end boards by Simon Gagne. The puck knocked off an out-of-position Fleury, back in front of the net and a sliding Mike Knuble punched in the goal in what was essentially an empty-netter.
Kennedy wiped out the deficit with a backhand to end the period tied at 1.
Crosby gave the Penguins the boost they needed with a pair of sweet assists that gave them the lead for good. He swiped the puck away from Mike Richards along the boards - in a battle of blossoming team captains - and fed it to Malkin, who fired from the slot and rang the crossbar to beat Martin Biron on the stick side. It was Malkin's second goal in the past 12 games.
Staal, who recently became the youngest player to appear in 200 NHL games, made it 3-1 with his 14th goal.
Then Sid the Kid delivered again for the Penguins with 25.8 seconds left in the second. He wrapped the puck around the back of the net, dumped it in front of the crease and Cooke slipped behind defenceman Kimmo Timonen to score his fifth goal for a 4-1 lead.
Joffrey Lupul added a goal for the Flyers in the third. The Flyers were knocked out of first place in the Atlantic with their loss and the Rangers' 2-1 win over the Islanders.
Notes: Fleury played in his 200th career game and became only the fourth goalie in team history to reach that mark. ... Crosby's first assist gave him 350 in his career. ... Malkin is three away from the 100-goal milestone. ... Crosby has four goals in the past 21 games.