Penguins juggle lines, land key win

| Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009

PHILADELPHIA — The Penguins could be on to something.

A 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night at Wachovia Center is a game the not-so-hot Penguins could build upon.

"It's been a long time since we played such a solid game," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.

Last night's win followed by a five-game homestand that opens tonight against the Washington Capitals could be just what the Penguins need.

"I think this is really good for our confidence," Therien said. "If we are playing the right way, good things might happen to us."

The remodeled line of Sidney Crosby — a first-line mainstay — usual second-liner Evgeni Malkin and the newly promoted Matt Cooke proved to be a good combination. Malkin and Cooke scored a goal apiece, while Crosby finished with two assists.

"Playing with those two guys is unbelievable," Cooke said. "It's a lot of fun. I really can't try to do too much. I just have to go out and bring what I bring and create space."

Any win, at this point, is critical for the Penguins, but this one was particularly big. Defeating their Atlantic Division foe was a quality win considering the Penguins handed the Flyers their first loss in regulation at home in more than two months.

This victory — behind a 27-save performance from goalie Marc-Andre Fleury — could be a sign of better things to come for the Penguins. Last night's game marked just the Penguins' second win in nine games.

"The season gets shorter by the day, and we have to start making up some ground," Cooke said.

The Penguins fell behind early but used a goal from forward Tyler Kennedy in the final four minutes of the first period to make the score, 1-1. The Penguins would score the next three goals — thanks to Malkin, Staal and Cooke — in the second period and seemed to have the game in hand.

"We didn't want to give them any life," Therrien said.

The Flyers didn't have much more to offer other than a Joffrey Lupul goal that came at the 8:07 mark of the third period. With the score, 4-2, the Penguins protected the lead — something they haven't been able to do very well as of late.

"We stayed sharp in the third and created some good chances," Crosby said.

The Penguins' scoring chances were plentiful in the second period when they converted on three of 11 shots. Just 1:42 in, Malkin scored his 17th goal of the season. He handled a pass from Crosby and fired the puck above the right shoulder of goalie Martin Biron and into the net. His goal gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead.

The Penguins struck again when center Jordan Staal carried the puck half the length of the ice before he lifted a backhand shot just below the crossbar and into the net. His goal gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead at the 12:25 mark of the second period.

The Penguins scored their fourth and final goal when Crosby wrapped the puck around the net before Cooke tapped it in to give the Penguins a 4-1 advantage.

"We set ourselves up and put ourselves in a good position," Crosby said. "We just kept playing the same way. We were able to gain momentum shift after shift. Every line did a great job."

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