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Penguins lose game, but gain valuable playoffs preparation

| Saturday, April 12, 2014, 6:21 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Flyers goaltender Steve Mason makes a pad save on the Penguins' Beau Bennett in the second period Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.

The monotony almost is over.

Playing in a series of meaningless games since February, the Penguins are finally getting healthy and felt positive following Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers at Consol Energy Center.

“We played this game as playoff preparation,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “What we want to get out of it is to improve as a team.”

Despite recent lackluster performances in games against Minnesota and Carolina, the Penguins believe they are trending upward.

Another effort like the one they had on Saturday against the Flyers, the Penguins insist, will lead to positive results in the postseason.

“Today's game was much better for us,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “Everybody remembers the home-and-home against them three weeks earlier. That didn't go well.”

This game was different.

The Penguins outshot Philadelphia, 36-21, but were victimized by a poor outing from goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, something that hasn't often been the case this season. James Neal and Kris Letang scored dramatic goals late in the third period to tie the score after the Flyers had gone ahead.

Mark Streit won the game for Philadelphia in overtime.

One regular-season game remains — the Penguins host Ottawa at 7:30 p.m. Sunday — and the Penguins intend to build some momentum into the postseason.

“I think we (need to) follow up on this performance,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “As a whole, we want to feel good about our game. I think there's some things we can take from today that are good.”

The Penguins played without injured center Evgeni Malkin as well standouts Brooks Orpik and Chris Kunitz.

Although Bylsma labeled Orpik and Kunitz as “day-to-day,” neither is believed to be seriously injured, and both will be available for the postseason.

The Penguins are expected to rest goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on Sunday. It remains unknown if other players will receive the night off, though Crosby said that, as of Saturday night, he was expecting to play against the Senators.

Crosby, who recorded an assist against the Flyers, was especially pleased with the Penguins' mindset. They have lost their composure against the Flyers on many occasions but not on this day.

Crosby also pointed out the Penguins didn't mail in a performance even if the result was irrelevant.

“For a game that didn't really move us anywhere — it didn't have any bearing on us — we came with the right attitude, the right mindset,” he said.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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