Penguins 2, Flyers 0
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Three rookies led the NHL’s last-place team to its second consecutive win.
Colby Armstrong had the first two-goal game of his career, Marc-Andre Fleury earned the second shutout of his career and Sidney Crosby posted two assists for the fifth time as the stripped-down Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 Sunday night.
Pittsburgh killed a 7-minute Flyers power play late in the game to preserve the shutout and prevent Philadelphia from moving into a tie atop the Atlantic Division.
“It was a great game by everyone and we played well together as a team,” Armstrong said. “We did the right things, so it felt great to pull out a win like that.”
The Penguins, whose 44 points are still five behind the next closest team, had six rookies in the lineup and only five with more than two seasons worth of NHL experience—the result of retirements, injuries and trades. But they have won two games in a row for only the fourth time this season.
Pittsburgh, which beat New Jersey 6-2 at home Saturday night, has yet to win three straight.
“We give a lot of chances to young players and that’s the way we see things right now,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “But right now the work ethic is there, the conditioning is there, back-to-back games the way we played.”
The Flyers, who are two points behind the Rangers, have not won a game in regulation since Feb. 10. They have two shootout wins and an overtime loss during that stretch. Philadelphia, which played for the fourth in seven days, lost 6-5 to Buffalo on Saturday.
“We just had an emotional week, and I think yesterday’s loss took quite a bit out of us,” Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We hit three goal posts, and we seemed to not have the energy, especially offensively, to do the things we needed to do.”
Armstrong, who has goals in three consecutive games and points in eight straight, scored his first on the power play midway through the first period when he slammed a rebound of Ryan Whitney’s shot past goalie Robert Esche.
Crosby, who set up Whitney for a one-timer, has at least one assist in five straight games.
“We’re all playing within our role and not worrying about results,” Crosby said. “When we do that everything seems to click, and that’s been a big factor in us winning games.”
Armstrong scored his ninth of the season 2:50 into the third. Crosby, in the right wing corner, fed a pass to Armstrong in the slot for a one-timed shot.
“The guys played awesome again and that’s why a goaltender gets a shutout,” said Fleury, who made 22 saves. “Everyone on the team has been working hard, and we haven’t won too many games in a row this year, so this is going to build up our confidence.
“It’s a good feeling to win. We didn’t win too much this year, so the feeling is good. It makes it fun to play hockey.”
Andre Roy wasn’t having too much fun when he left the Penguins short-handed through a long stretch late in the game.
After being checked hard by Denis Gauthier into the right wing boards with 10:30 left, Roy skated toward Gauthier—who was covering up—and began to throw punches at his back and neck as Gauthier fell to the ice.
Gauthier, 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds, has a reputation as a physical player but never attempted to fight back. Roy was given two minutes for instigating, five for fighting, a misconduct and a game misconduct.
But the Flyers produced only one shot on goal during its extended man advantage.
“I don’t think we generated a whole lot throughout that seven minutes,” Philadelphia center Peter Forsberg said. “The clock just kept ticking and we didn’t do a whole lot. It is frustrating. You get seven minutes of power play and we get nothing.
“I think we’re finding it hard to win games right now. We’re not that confident when it comes down to the end.”
The Flyers don’t play again until Wednesday when they begin a stretch of three road games in four nights.
“It’s been a difficult week, an emotional week,” forward Mike Knuble said. “And we have a tough week ahead.”
Pittsburgh is 1-6-2 at home against Philadelphia since Nov. 27, 2002. … This is the first time the Penguins have beaten the Flyers more than once in a season since 2000-01. … Pittsburgh has scored a power-play goal in seven of eight games. … The Penguins improved to 11-1-2 when leading after one period and 13-1-2 when leading after two periods.