Crosby, Penguins knock off Flyers again

| Friday, Dec. 18, 2009

PHILADELPHIA — The Penguins struggling power play finally came to life in Philadelphia.

Sidney Crosby, meanwhile, is always alive and well when the Penguins and Flyers do battle.

Crosby killed the Flyers again, finishing off Philadelphia with a shootout goal to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory at the Wachovia Center. He actually fanned on the decisive goal, a wrist shot that floated over Philadelphia goalie Brian Boucher's glove.

"I didn't just fan on it a little bit," Crosby said with a sheepish grin.

But hey, when you're hot, you're hot.

Even though Crosby scored his 22nd goal of the season and produced the shootout winner, he wasn't named one of the game's three stars, further proof that he is considered a villain of the highest magnitude in Philadelphia.

"I don't know," he said. "It's just always been that way here."

As usual, Crosby turned the crowd's vulgar chants during the game into silence in the end.

He is now 5-for-5 on shootouts this season. The two areas where Crosby struggled most when he entered the league — shootouts and faceoffs — are now strengths. He currently leads the league in shootout percentage and in faceoffs won.

And his mastery of the Flyers never ceases to amaze his teammates.

"He loves coming in this building," Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. "You can just tell."

If Crosby is the league's biggest Flyers killer, Fleury isn't far behind. In a performance that brought back memories of his dynamic performance in Game 4 of the 2009 first-round playoff game in Philadelphia, Fleury stopped 31 of 33 shots against the desperate Flyers, many of them terrific opportunities. He apparently has gotten into the Flyers' heads to the point that, in the shootout, Danny Briere and Claude Giroux, two rather accomplished breakaway artists, weren't even able to register shots.

"He was outstanding," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He really made some big saves for us tonight."

Fleury improved his career record to 18-6 in regular season games against the Flyers. He also, of course, has been largely responsible for eliminating the Flyers from each of the past two postseasons.

"I thought he was really great tonight," Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton said. "The Flyers played a very good game. They were coming on strong. They were good in the second period, and Flower was there to make some huge saves."

Jeff Carter gave Philadelphia a lead only 75 seconds into the game, but the Penguins' power play, which has been so shaky most of the season, finally came through with a solid performance.

Bill Guerin scored his ninth goal of the season to give the Penguins a power play tally midway through the first period.

After Claude Giroux had given the Flyers a 2-1 lead early in the second period, the Penguins again lit the lamp with a man advantage. Crosby found himself open in the slot and buried a slap shot over Boucher's glove.

"It felt really nice to get the power play going," Crosby said.

The Flyers came on strong late in the second period, but Fleury withstood the storm. He stoned Arron Asham on a breakaway and also made brilliant saves on Danny Briere and James Van Riemsdyk.

A back-and-forth third period saw both goaltenders make terrific saves.

In overtime, penalties to Brooks Orpik and Dan Carcillo produced a highly unusual two minutes of 3-on-3 hockey. The Penguins carried the play during this time but couldn't score.

Letang was the Penguins first shooter in the shootout and beat Boucher cleanly to the forehand side.

"Kuny (Chris Kunitz) said he would bite on the first move," Letang said.

Crosby later put the game away on goal that, the way Fleury was playing, might not have been necessary.

"You got the feeling he was going to stop as many as he had to," Bylsma said.

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