Crosby, Penguins overpower Flyers

The Flyers had survived shorthanded situations in this young

season, but on Saturday night, the

Pittsburgh

Penguins, and especially Sidney

Crosby, showed them that’s not a safe route.

Crosby broke open a close game with a pair of power-play goals 1

minute, 24 seconds apart, and the

Penguins pulled away to a 5-1

victory at the Wells Fargo Center.

The major call of the game came in the closing seconds of the

second period when, with the

Penguins up by 2-1, Jeff Carter was

assessed a double minor for high-sticking after he struck

Pittsburgh defenseman Alex Goligoski.

Early in the third period, the Flyers’ Claude Giroux put his

team two men down when he was called for tripping. Crosby scored 33

seconds later, at 3:13, on the five-on-three, and scored again

three seconds before Carter had completed his four minutes of

penalty time.

“I didn’t mean to come around and get [Goligoski] in the face,”

Carter said. “He was battling, and I was obviously careless with my

stick. That was kind of the turning point of the game. We’ve got to

be careful with our penalties. They really shot us in the foot

tonight.

“It’s a 2-1 game there, and we started taking some penalties,

and the next thing you know, it’s 4-1.”

The Flyers spent much of the first seven minutes of the third

period killing off penalties, and although the

Penguins didn’t score off the final

one in that stretch – a slashing call against Mike Richards – the

penalty killers and defensemen were fairly well spent.

“We’re taking penalties,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said.

“We’re going in the box. Whether they’re questionable, marginal, or

whether they’re deserved, there’s an infraction that’s there. It

ended up costing us tonight.”

The Flyers have been shorthanded 31 times this season, tops in

the NHL. They picked up 25 minutes in penalties against the

Penguins.

And they found out Saturday night that you can’t give the

Penguins a manpower advantage,

especially with Crosby running the show. The center had an assist

to go with his two goals, and now has 59 points (26 goals, 33

assists) in 34 career games against the Flyers.

“He’s the best player in the game,” Carter said. “I thought as a

whole we did a pretty good job the first two periods, and then we

started taking penalties. And if you give him open ice, he’s going

to make plays.”

The Flyers didn’t do much offensively in even-strength

situations. In fact, they scored their only goal, by Danny Briere,

on the power play – only their second this season with the man

advantage.

Camped at the left post, Briere took the loose puck off the

boards and lifted it over Pittsburgh goalie Brent Johnson at 6:43

of the first period, giving the Flyers their only lead.

The

Penguins knotted the score after

Crosby gained control of the puck over Andres Nodl, then slipped a

pass to Chris Kunitz. He walked in on rookie goalie Sergei

Bobrovsky and poked the puck between his pads at 11:31.

The

Penguins broke the tie at 19:15 of

the second period on a goal by Mark Letestu. After Bobrovsky saved

an initial shot by Kris Letang, James Van Riemsdyk tried to clear

the puck but hit it off teammate Matt Carle. Letestu got it and

whipped it through the goalie’s pads.

Just 34 seconds later, Carter got his high-sticking double

minor, and Crosby went to work.

The

Penguins scored their fifth goal

shorthanded. Laviolette pulled Bobrovsky on a Flyers power play,

but Matt Cooke fired into the empty net at 16:36 to wrap up the

scoring.

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or

jjuliano@phillynews.com.