Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penguins 2 Coyotes 1 Fleury Leads Surge to 6th Win in Row

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penguins 2 Coyotes 1 Fleury Leads Surge to 6th Win in Row

Article excerpt

They should be a tough group to hate, these Phoenix Coyotes.

Fact is, there's a lot to like, or at least respect, about them.

They compete all over the ice. They're resilient. They're well- coached. They overachieve.

And they might have the lowest profile of any club in the NHL, at least on this side of the continent.

But the Penguins' 2-1 victory Monday night against the Coyotes was only a few minutes old when it became apparent that, if the teams had any particular affection for one another, they were willing to put it aside for a few hours.

Which, under the circumstances, was perfectly understandable.

"It's an important time," Penguins left winger Matt Cooke said. "They're fighting for their playoff lives. You have to be at your best, and sometimes being a little robust brings out the best in you."

That might be, but the Penguins (39-21-5) weren't at their best for a significant portion of the game, as evidenced by Phoenix's 37- 26 advantage in shots.

The Coyotes, though, were only able to get one puck past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has reached the 35-victory mark for the fourth season in a row.

"He's the main reason we won," defenseman Zbynek Michalek said.

The victory stretched the Penguins' winning streak to six games and moved them four points ahead of fifth-place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Flyers have a game in hand.

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had an assist to reclaim sole possession of first place in the NHL points race and run his scoring streak to eight games.

Right winger Tyler Kennedy returned to the lineup after sitting out 11 games because of a high ankle sprain and reported no problems after getting 14 minutes, 20 seconds of work.

"I thought [Kennedy] looked pretty good," coach Dan Bylsma said. "Had some jump in his game."

The Penguins also got a solid performance out of defenseman Brian Strait, who logged 12 minutes, 19 seconds of ice time while filling in for Deryk Engelland.

No one, however, had a better game than Fleury, who finished with 36 saves.

"He was our best player," Bylsma said. "I thought the Coyotes played a really hard and fast game against us and had a number of great opportunities. …

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