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Penguins Start Homestand with Strong Win

by Caitlin Kasunich / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins fans celebrated their team’s 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers by starting a vehement “Go Home Flyers” chant in the final minutes of the Saturday afternoon game. With the start of the playoff season just weeks away, many players recognized the importance of picking up strong wins on home ice, with a six-game homestand continuing Sunday against Toronto.


“It was good,” Mike Rupp said. “We have six games at home. We need to establish ourselves in these last eight games, and we have six at home to do that here and make it a tough place to come in and play. That’s what we did Saturday, and we’ll look to do it again Sunday.”

Captain Sidney Crosby added that the win especially left the team in good spirits since they knew that they needed to improve their play in recent games.

“Today was a step in the right direction,” he said. “We had that intensity that we’re going to need for the rest of the season and moving forward.”

Head coach Dan Bylsma said that all of the team’s success was a result of attacking the net.

All of our goals were a result of going to the net, crashing there and getting second chances and creating that by going to the net. That’s what you have to do. We played in the offensive zone for long periods, it wasn’t perfect and we can get better. You saw periods of hockey where we did that and we’re rewarded for it - Dan Bylsma
“All of our goals were a result of going to the net, crashing there and getting second chances and creating that by going to the net,” he said. “That’s what you have to do. We played in the offensive zone for long periods, it wasn’t perfect and we can get better. You saw periods of hockey where we did that and we’re rewarded for it.” 

Rupp also seized the opportunity to show Philadelphia whose boss when he bulldozed Flyers winger Scott Hartnell into the far boards of the Flyers zone at 14:50 into the second period.

Crosby noted that the hit helped to change the momentum of the game, because it allowed players to get fired up for the remainder of the game.

“Rupper has that presence out there, and part of his job is making those hits and making it tough on other teams,” he said. “From there on in, we were rolling pretty well.”

Rupp agreed that those kinds of hits can have a positive effect on players’ motivation and energy level.

“I was just trying to finish my hit,” he said. “Fortunately I was able to get a guy who we don’t really care for.”

For the first time this season, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up an assist on Chris Kunitz’s goal in the first period, even though he does not recall the play.

“I was thinking about how I got an assist, but I don’t know,” Fleury said with a laugh.

Fleury gave the puck to Leopold, who skated to the left point and fired a shot at the net. Kunitz then stopped the rebound with his skate at the bottom of the near circle and sent the puck past Backlund at 19:02 into the period.

With Russian superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar out of the lineup, the 25-year-old goaltender’s seventh career assist, along with his additional 26 saves throughout the game, allowed the team to pick up two more ever-important points.

“It’s fun,” Fleury said of his assist. “Maybe I can catch up to some of the guys, but I didn’t get many this year.”

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