Published March 27, 2010
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Sidney Crosby set up three goals, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury played a strong game after allowing an early soft goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the rival Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Saturday, the final regular season game in Mellon Arena between the longtime rivals.
Scoring more than three goals for the first time in 10 games, the Stanley Cup champion Penguins ended a three-game losing streak and clinched a berth in the Eastern Conference playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
The Penguins also took over the Atlantic Division lead, although New Jersey could go past them by beating Montreal on Saturday night.
The Flyers generated little offense 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 have lost five of six to the Penguins, who eliminated them in the playoffs the last two seasons.
Fleury regrouped to make 26 saves as the Penguins improved to 7-0-3 in their last 10 games in Mellon Arena.
Pascal Dupuis put the Penguins ahead 2-1 with his 18th goal, putting in a rebound after Crosby carried the puck into the Flyers zone and drove to the net against rookie goalie Johan Backlund at 6:03 of the second.
Backlund made 22 saves in his NHL debut — he became the fourth starting goalie used by the Flyers this season — before leaving after two periods with an unspecified lower body injury.
The Penguins will go to their new arena next season with a 58-44-2 home-ice record against the Flyers, one that is much better than the Flyers' 132-85-31 overall record since both franchises entered the league together in 1967.
The Flyers and Penguins tied 1-1 in their first game in Pittsburgh on Nov. 4, 1967, when slightly more than 4,300 showed up at what was then known as the Civic Arena. Nearly four times that many — 17,132 — were on hand Saturday for what might have been Philadelphia's final game in an arena that visiting players will remember for its cramped visitors dressing room and noisy fans that sit much closer to the ice than those in the more spacious newer arenas.
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 being sent off with roughing penalties.
The sellout crowd was more subdued than usual for a game against arguably the Penguins' most-disliked opponent, perhaps because there were long stretches without good scoring chances or offensive flow.
The fans managed one last "Go Home, Flyers" chant shortly after Fedotenko scored on a power play 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.
Chris Kunitz tied it at 1 for the Penguins in the final minute of the first period, putting a rebound of Jordan Leopold's shot past Backlund 1 second after a power play ended.
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, failed to score a goal for a seventh consecutive game.