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Crosby records three assists, Fleury makes 26 saves as Penguins beat Flyers 4-1

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

PITTSBURGH - They won't miss the nails in the wall that substitute for lockers, the dressing room that's too small to accommodate two goalies or the endless chants of "Go Home, Flyers."

Most of all, the Flyers won't miss all those losses they've endured during the Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby eras in Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena.

Crosby set up three goals, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury played a strong game after allowing an early soft goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat Philadelphia 4-1 on Saturday, the final regular season game in the 49-year-old arena between the longtime rivals.

The Stanley Cup champion Penguins scored more than three goals for the first time in 10 games while ending a three-game losing streak. They also clinched an Eastern Conference playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season.

The Flyers generated little offence after Arron Asham's attempted pass was misplayed by Fleury into a goal 1:02 into the game, and they lost their fifth in a row and seventh in eight games. They dropped five of six during the season series to Pittsburgh, which eliminated them in the playoffs the last two seasons.

The Flyers might be as ready for a new Pittsburgh arena as the Penguins are.

The Penguins will take a 58-44-2 home-ice record against Philadelphia into their new building, although the Flyers hold a one-sided 132-85-31 series edge since both franchises entered the NHL in 1967.

Pittsburgh's total home wins against the Flyers, counting the playoffs? 66, the same as Lemieux's number.

"I don't think it's an easy situation, we're a team that's struggling right now," Flyers forward Simon Gagne said. "You come here and play against a team like Pittsburgh that we all know has a lot of success against us."

The Flyers felt the game changed after referee Dan Marouelli initially signalled a goal when Gagne put the puck in the net as Ville Leino upended Fleury in the crease at 4:53 of the second, then switched the call. Marouelli ruled that Fleury was interfered with, although he didn't call a penalty.

"I don't know if you're allowed to do that, look at the (scoreboard) replay and change your decision," Gagne said. "I had no idea they were going to take the goal away."

Pascal Dupuis put the Penguins ahead 2-1 only 70 seconds later by beating rookie goalie Johan Backlund off a rebound of Crosby's shot. After that, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said, "It seemed we started to lose our steam."

Matt Cooke and Ruslan Fedotenko scored in the third period against goalie Brian Boucher, with Crosby assisting on both goals and Fedotenko getting an assist on Cooke's goal. Before that, Chris Kunitz scored during the final minute of the first period, putting in a rebound of Jordan Leopold's shot 1 second after a power play ended.

"All of our goals were a result of going to the net, crashing there and getting second chances," coach Dan Bylsma said. "That's what you have to do. We played in the offensive zone for long periods, but it wasn't perfect and we can get better."

Backlund made 22 saves in his NHL debut - he became Philadelphia's fourth starting goalie this season - before leaving after two periods with a lower body injury. Fleury made 26 saves as the Penguins improved to 7-0-3 in their last 10 home games.

"We played with the intensity that we wanted," Crosby said. "When you get a game like that, this was a good way to respond to a tough team and an emotional one."

Remarkably, the two in-state rivals managed to play a fight-free game, although Scott Hartnell and the Penguins' Brooks Orpik briefly tussled midway through the third period before drawing roughing penalties.

The fans managed one last "Go Home, Flyers" chant shortly after Fedotenko scored at 14:31 of the third, only the second Pittsburgh power play goal in 43 chances with Evgeni Malkin sidelined. He missed his fifth game in his last six with a bruised right foot.

The Flyers and Penguins tied 1-1 in their first game in Pittsburgh on Nov. 4, 1967, when 4,179 showed up. Nearly four times that many, 17,132, were on hand Saturday.

NOTES: The Flyers were 0-for-4 on the power play. ... Pittsburgh, opening a six-game homestand, is 20-1-1 at home in March and April the last three seasons. ... Crosby, who began the day tied for the NHL lead with 45 goals, hasn't scored a goal in seven games. ... Pittsburgh D Sergei Gonchar (illness) missed a second successive game.


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