PHILADELPHIA – Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ power play felt right at home on the other side of Pennsylvania.
Crosby scored two power-play goals 90 seconds apart in the third period, and the Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-1 on Saturday night.
“When we do get those chances, we have to make the most of them,” Crosby said. “We got them and found a way to hit the net.”
In 17 regular-season games in Philadelphia, Crosby has 13 goals and 28 points. Overall against the Flyers, the Penguins captain has posted 26 goals and 59 points in 33 games. The star centre had no concrete reason why he enjoys so much success in Philadelphia.
“There’s a comfort level (between the teams),” he said. “We’ve played here a lot and know each other well. There aren’t a lot of surprises. There’s really no way to explain it.”
Mark Letestu, Chris Kunitz and Matt Cooke also scored for Pittsburgh, which won its second straight to improve to 3-3 this season. The Penguins beat the New York Islanders in overtime on Friday night for their first win in their new home arena.
The Penguins, who avenged an opening-night loss to the Flyers last Thursday at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center, fired 30 shots at Philadelphia rookie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Danny Briere gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 6:43 of the first period. Jeff Carter bounced a pass off the boards behind the net to Briere, who flicked a shot over Johnson’s right shoulder. The Flyers have struggled this season on the power play, going 2 for 22 with the advantage after finishing third in the NHL last season.
Briere has scored both of those man-advantage goals and has four tallies overall this season.
Philadelphia’s lead lasted less than five minutes. Kunitz got the Penguins going when he took a feed from Crosby and fired a shot between Bobrovsky’s legs.
Letestu put Pittsburgh ahead 2-1 with an opportunistic goal in the closing minute of the second period. Kris Letang’s shot bounced in front of the net, and a clearing attempt by Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk went off teammate Matt Carle. Letestu then found room between Bobrovsky’s legs for the goal.
Crosby’s two goals in the third took the life out of the Flyers, who have been penalized a league-high 31 times in five games.
“Whether they’re questionable (calls) or deserved, we’re going to the box, and it ended up costing us,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “Penalties are avoidable. It taxes the penalty killers. It taxes the defencemen. We’re not scoring five-on-five, and that doesn’t help, but now we’re on defence again. That’s not good enough. We have to be more disciplined.”
Cooke scored the final goal for the Penguins, a short-handed, empty-netter in the closing minutes.
Brent Johnson stopped 29 shots for the Penguins, who handed the Flyers their third straight loss. Philadelphia has scored only four times in those games.
“We’re not scoring a lot of goals right now,” Laviolette said. “We have to do a better job in the battles for the puck. I’m not happy with where we are offensively as a group. We have to generate more.”
NOTES: Letestu has five points in his first five games, including three goals. … Flyers D Matt Walker has yet to play due to a hip-groin injury that has bothered him since the pre-season. Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren said Walker may need surgery. … Penguins centre Jordan Staal (foot) is skating, but isn’t game ready. D Zbynek Michalek (shoulder) also sat out for Pittsburgh. … Penguins forward Arron Asham (shoulder) also missed the game.