Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal scored in the second period and Evgeni Malkin had the winner with 2:03 to play to lift the Penguins, who snapped a five-game skid with a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia on Monday night that extended the Flyers’ losing streak to six. Crosby is 19, Staal is 18 and Malkin is 20.
“It’s kind of neat I guess to think about it that way,” said Staal, the No. 2 overall pick in this past summer’s draft. “There’s a lot of young talent in this dressing room, and hopefully we can keep that going, keep that chemistry going and keep getting those wins.”
Malkin gave the Penguins the win when he one-timed a pass from Mark Recchi in the high left slot and fired a slap shot over Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki’s right shoulder just under the cross bar. Crosby picked up the assist.
“We were practising and during practice (Recchi) got me that pass, so I felt he would get me the pass,” said Malkin through an interpreter. “So I just stood ready for the pass and took the shot.”
Malkin, selected No. 2 overall in the 2004 draft, has nine goals to lead all NHL rookies. Staal is tied for second in that category with six. Crosby last season became the youngest player ever to earn 100 points in a season.
“They’re all really good players and so far this year, they’ve all been doing it for us,” Pittsburgh winger Colby Armstrong said. “Those guys are all skilled. They know where to put the puck.”
Randy Robitaille and Geoff Sanderson had goals for the Flyers, who lost to the Penguins for the third time this season and have worst record in the Eastern Conference.
Ex-Penguin Robitaille scored the game’s first goal, his fourth, 2:14 into the second period. After a Josef Melichar giveaway at centre ice, Robitaille carried the puck in on a 3-on-1. He attempted to get a pass through to a charging Simon Gagne, but it was broken up by Pittsburgh defenceman Sergei Gonchar. The puck deflected off of Gonchar’s stick and between the legs of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Crosby tied the game with 13:01 to play in the period when he picked up a loose puck just inside the Pittsburgh blue-line and took off, getting a 2-on-1 with Chris Thorburn. Crosby kept the puck and flipped a wrist shot above Niittymaki’s shoulder on the glove side.
The Penguins outshot the Flyers 31-10 through two periods but Philadelphia came out and controlled the early minutes of the third.
Sanderson tied the game 2-2 when he fired a puck into an open net to the left of Fleury with 13 1/2 minutes to play. A pass from R.J. Umberger bounced off Melichar’s stick to Sanderson, who scored for the fourth time this season.
“The first two periods, I thought we were on task and then also probably the second half of the third we started to play better,” Crosby said. “For the most part, I thought we did a great job. We were playing the way we needed to, using our speed.”
The Penguins had not outshot an opponent during their losing streak, but held a 39-25 advantage in shots Monday. The last time the Penguins had more shots than their opposition was during a 4-2 win over New Jersey Oct. 24 – eight games ago.
“It feels like every night we’re getting beat by another team’s best players and right now our best players need to be our best players,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “I’m having trouble understanding it to be honest with you. You have to play for 60 minutes.”
The Flyers, who have lost nine of their last 11, fell to 0-10-1 when trailing after two periods and 3-12-2 overall.
Notes: Pittsburgh RW Nils Ekman missed the game with what the team said was an illness. … Philadelphia’s power play – worst in the NHL on the road at 4.4 per cent coming into the game – was 0 for 5, including a two-man advantage late in the second period. The Flyers’ power play ranked tied for 29th overall heading into the game. … Pittsburgh had not beaten the Flyers three times in one season since 2000-01. … Umberger grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of Plum.