Penguins Notebook: In this case, time was factor

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The Penguins were able to overcome a bad start yesterday for a 4-3 shootout win against Philadelphia, but the early lackluster play wasn't for lack of trying to deal with a 12:38 p.m. start.

Coach Michel Therrien had the players come in at 10 a.m., half an hour earlier than usual in relation to the faceoff time, so they could try to get their bodies going.

"We tried to get in here a little earlier, get the legs going a little," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "It was preparing yourself to play at a weird time. This was one of the earliest I've ever played since turning pro.

"Guys tried to get ready in different ways. I'm just glad we got a win."

The game was set for 12:38 because NBC, which televised it, was scheduled to start coverage of the Honda Classic golf tournament at 3.

The team can get back to its familiar routine tomorrow when it plays a night game at Ottawa.

"Good thing we don't play at noon," Therrien said.

Come Saturday, though, the Penguins will have another early game, 1:08 p.m. against the New York Rangers.

Surprising confession

There's never much pride in being assessed a penalty for diving, but Penguins center Erik Christensen confessed after taking one with 20 seconds left in the third period when he banged bodies with Flyers defenseman Alexandre Picard.

"I dove a little bit," Christensen said. "I was trying to draw something. You didn't know what they were going to call [yesterday]. Alexandre Picard isn't that strong, and I'm not that easy to push over.

"So, yes, I was trying to draw something. A power play [that would carry over] in overtime, the seconds are winding down -- it would have been great.

"I probably deserved [the call]. I'm willing to admit that I embellished a bit."

Picard got a coincidental interference penalty, meaning the first 1:40 of overtime was played three-on-three.

A language of their own

Therrien declined to repeat what he said to the men in striped shirts in the first period to draw a Penguins bench penalty for "abuse of officials."

The coach would not divulge whether it was in English or French, either.

"International language," he said, with a smile.

Familiar faces

Some of the Penguins and Flyers have a rivalry that goes back to the American Hockey League, when they faced each other in games between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins and the Philadelphia Phantoms.

"The majority of us who have played in Wilkes-Barre definitely had a big-time rivalry with the Phantoms," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "My first year [2001-02], we weren't very good, and it was kind of a goonfest, to say the least.

"But the fans seemed to enjoy it, and it developed into more of a team rivalry, more playing hockey. And it's carried on to the NHL."

The coaches for those teams are now with the NHL clubs -- Therrien coached in Wilkes-Barre, and John Stevens with the Phantoms.

"They have the same coach now we played against down there for a while, and a lot of the same players have moved up," Penguins winger Colby Armstrong said. "I know a lot of guys over there. It's a big rivalry."

Slap shots

Penguins center Sidney Crosby received a standing ovation in the first period when he was acknowledged for becoming the youngest player to reach 200 career points in the NHL. ... Whitney on coming back to beat the last-place Flyers in a shootout: "We don't feel too bad giving them a point because they're not in the race." ... The crowd of 17,132 at Mellon Arena gave the Penguins their 21st sellout this season and the 14th in their past 16 home games. ... The Penguins scratched defensemen Mark Eaton (knee) and Joel Kwiatkowski and forwards Ronald Petrovicky and Chris Thorburn. The Flyers scratched defenseman Randy Jones, forward Dimitry Afanasenkov and goaltender Robert Esche.


Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.


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