Crosby took over the NHL scoring lead with a career-high six points in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 8-4 rout of the Flyers on Wednesday night. The 19-year-old phenom has 29 points in 13 career games against Philadelphia, including 15 in five games this season – all Penguins victories. “We saw a special performance by a special player,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “It was unbelievable. Sid was phenomenal.”
Crosby had one goal and five assists to give him 47 points for the season, three more than New York Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr.
“Part of my job is to move the puck; it’s up to (my teammates) to finish the opportunities, and those guys were on tonight,” Crosby said.
Sergei Gonchar had two goals and three assists, Ryan Malone added one goal and three assists, and Mark Recchi had a goal and assist for the Penguins, who have won three in a row. Gonchar and Malone also set career highs in points.
“I think Sid had a lot to do with it,” Malone said of his mark. “I don’t think I did too much on too many of those, but it’s definitely fun to get a couple points and help out offensively.”
Ryan Potulny had a goal and an assist, and Alexandre Picard set up two goals for the Flyers, who lost their fifth straight and have the worst record in the Eastern Conference (8-19-4).
Crosby’s previous best was four points in a game – done three times in his one-plus NHL seasons. He has a goal in five straight games and 15 points in six contests.
“The way the bounces were going and the puck was going into the net, we were so good at finishing our chances that I don’t think you can fault the defence that was out there against us,” Crosby said. “We were just having one of those nights when everything was going in.”
The first five goals were scored in fewer than 13 minutes. The first three came within a span of 1:27 less than six minutes after the opening faceoff. Three of the first-period goals were deflected by players into their own net.
After the Penguins’ Chris Thorburn scored his third a little more than four minutes in, Crosby gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead 60 seconds later when his centring pass to Malone appeared to carom off the skate of Flyers defenceman Derian Hatcher and past goalie Antero Niittymaki.
“There are a lot of games where he sets up a lot of guys, but they hit the post or the goal doesn’t go in,” Malone said. “But Sid’s capable of turning the game around like that, and when he’s on, he’s on. And it’s definitely fun to watch.”
The Penguins appeared on the way to another rout after outscoring Philadelphia 20-7 in the first four meetings. But the Flyers sustained a short-lived rally.
Potulny was credited with the Flyers’ first goal 27 seconds after Crosby’s tally. This time the puck went in off the skate of Pittsburgh defenceman Brooks Orpik.
Todd Fedoruk tied it 2-2 at 9:07, just after a power play expired.
It took fewer than four minutes for Gonchar to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead on a play in which Crosby earned an assist.
“He was flying out there,” Gonchar said of Crosby, who has multiple points in 10 of 12 games. “He was making unbelievable plays.”
Malone scored his first goal of the season at 5:56 of the second period on a rebound of Crosby’s shot. Malone entered with only two points in 12 games.
Crosby set up each of the next two goals – which came in a span of 2:12 midway through the second. Gonchar’s second came at 7:17, and Recchi’s eighth of the season at 9:29 made it 6-2.
“I’m not really worried about Sidney Crosby right now,” Niittymaki said. “Some other team can worry about him now.”
The Flyers got third-period goals from Kyle Calder and Mike Knuble, but in between Michel Ouellet scored his seventh of the season on the power play.
Jordan Staal added a short-handed goal with 6.9 seconds left for Pittsburgh.
“They got off to that quick start with two goals in the first three minutes and it’s on for them, they think it’s going to be one of those nights,” Knuble said. “They were licking at their chops to get on the ice again.”
Notes: The Flyers hadn’t lost five games to the Penguins in a season since 1992-93, when they went 1-5-1. … Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was not in net for the first six minutes of the second period due to an equipment problem. Jocelyn Thibault made one save his absence. … Flyers G Martin Houle made his NHL debut in the second period, stopping two of three shots before Niittymaki returned.