Malkin leads Penguins past Flyers

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 07, 2012
Evgeni Malkin scored his 50th goal of the season and added an assist to lock up his second NHL scoring title and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Saturday. Malkin finished the regular season with 109 points and became the ninth player in Penguins history to reach the 50-goal mark when his wrist shot with 12 seconds left in the second period beat Philadelphia's Sergei Bobrovsky to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead. Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis also scored for the Penguins, who knocked off the Flyers for the first time at Consol Energy Center. Brent Johnson stopped five shots in relief of Marc-Andre Fleury to get the win. Brayden Schenn and Jaromir Jagr scored for the Flyers, who rested leading scorer Claude Giroux in the regular season finale in preparation for their first-round matchup with Pittsburgh starting next week. The two rivals kept it mostly clean six days after a heated 6-4 Philadelphia victory ended with a late-game brawl and Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette labeling Pittsburgh's Dan Bylsma ''gutless'' for throwing a checking line on the ice to mix things up when the game got out of hand in the final minutes. The antics sparked a weeklong onslaught against the Penguins from critics - among them New York Rangers coach John Tortorella, Philadelphia assistant Craig Berube and former NHL coach turned TV analyst Mike Milbury - accusing Pittsburgh of being one of the dirtiest teams in the league. The usually reticent Crosby called Tortorella's comments ''garbage'' and the Penguins downplayed the talk as nothing but gamesmanship. If the Penguins were angry, it didn't show. The only really physical play came early as the Flyers looked to get a little payback against Pittsburgh's Joe Vitale, who knocked Philadelphia's Daniel Briere out of last Sunday's game with a vicious - but clean - hit. Briere hasn't played since and is out indefinitely with a back injury. Vitale didn't have to wait long to see if the Flyers wanted to even the score. Little-used Philadelphia forward Harry Zolnierczyk encouraged Vitale to drop the gloves less than 4 minutes into the game, with Vitale quickly dispatching Zolnierczyk with a series of right hands. The only other real chippiness came late in the first period when Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo earned a 5-minute major and game misconduct for checking Pittsburgh's Craig Adams from behind. Things settled down after that as both teams played it close to the vest with nothing to gain. The Penguins are already locked into the fourth seed and will have home ice advantage when they face the fifth-seeded Flyers next week. The drama in an otherwise meaningless game surrounded Malkin and Fleury's bids for history. Fleury started in an attempt to collect his franchise-record 227th career victory. He stopped 14 shots before being replaced by Johnson with 8 minutes to play in the second period as a precaution. Any chance Fleury had of passing Tom Barrasso ended 52 seconds after Fleury skated to the bench when Jagr scored to tie the game at 2. Malkin's pursuit of the record book was far more productive. Crosby scored his eighth goal of the season with 2:06 left in the second period to put Pittsburgh back in front and Malkin delivered in style, walking through the zone and firing a wrister that slipped past Bobrovsky. With his parents watching from the stands, Malkin celebrated with an emphatic fist pump as the largest crowd in Consol's brief history chanted ''MVP.'' NOTE: Dupuis' first-period goal pushed his points streak to 17, the longest in the NHL this season and the longest in the league since Crosby's 25-game run during the 2010-11 season ... Pittsburgh scratched forwards James Neal and Steve Sullivan, though both are expected to be ready for the playoffs ... The Flyers have allowed the game's first goal in 24 of their past 32 games. ... Philadelphia finished the season with 67 power-play goals, tops in the NHL.
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