Penguins Notebook: Even more at stake in rivalry with Flyers


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PHILADELPHIA -- They were playing for first place in the overall standings.

For the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

For the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

Clearly, much was at stake when the Penguins faced Philadelphia Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Not that any of it was needed to separate that game from most played over the course of an 82-game season.

"It's the Philadelphia Flyers," Penguins left winger Matt Cooke said. "You don't need to say anything more."

The game was televised in the United States and Canada, and center Sidney Crosby agreed that the Penguins, who entered the evening with a 12-game winning streak, and the Flyers, who were 7-1-3 in their previous 11, tend to elevate their games anytime they collide, regardless of what's on the line.

"It's always intense here," he said. "Both teams bring out the best in one another."

How much of an impact the outcome will have on the division and conference races remains to be seen. If nothing else, though, the game added some spice to what could have been a fairly mundane stretch of the schedule.

"It's certainly not going to make or break either team's season," Flyers defenseman Matt Carle said. "But it's fun to have something on the line within an 82-game season."

Just another game

Penguins right winger Arron Asham spent the past two seasons in Philadelphia, where his rugged style was predictably embraced by the fan base.

But despite that popularity -- and the fact that he went to the Stanley Cup final with the Flyers this spring -- Asham said he was treating Tuesday's game as just another one on the road.

"We went on a decent run last year," he said, "but I'm just looking at it as another game."

While that might not have been easy, Asham has considerable experience going against former teammates.

"It was a little different, but it's not my first time being on a different team," he said. "I've played for pretty much every [Atlantic Division] team besides the Rangers, so I've seen my old teammates quite a bit. It's a part of the game, part of the business."

Penguins' stars lining up

The NHL All-Star Game might end up looking like a Penguins intra-squad scrimmage.

Crosby is the top vote-getter overall, while Kris Letang is first on defense and Marc-Andre Fleury ranks second among goaltenders.

"[The fan support] means a lot, and we certainly appreciate it," Crosby said. "It's a great example of the support we get. That's a clear indication, along with a lot of others."

Crosby has received 410,754 votes, placing him far ahead of Chicago's Jonathan Toews (244,774) at forward. Evgeni Malkin is fourth among forwards, and 10th overall, with 211,699.

Letang, who trails only Crosby in the overall balloting, has received 293,584 votes, including a league-high 59,479 text votes.

Montreal goalie Carey Price has gotten 250,256 votes, which is 31,906 more than of Fleury.

Other Penguins receiving votes during the first four weeks of balloting include forwards Max Talbot (30,185), Chris Kunitz (20,285) and Pascal Dupuis (8,232) and defensemen Paul Martin (110,329), Brooks Orpik (38,622) and Alex Goligoski (8,420).

Tip-ins

Crosby, Washington captain Alex Ovechkin and former NHL player Jeremy Roenick will appear on an episode of a TV game show, "The Price Is Right," that will be broadcast Monday. One of the prizes at stake includes a trip to Pittsburgh for the Jan. 1 game at Heinz Field. ... Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, on his team's approach during its winning streak: "It's been matter-of-fact. There hasn't been a change in our demeanor or the looseness of our group."


Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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