PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The kitschy light-up bracelets flickered in the darkened arena and another packed house roared “Crosby sucks! Crosby sucks!” Here’s the thing Philly fans haven’t yet accepted about Sidney Crosby over the last 13 years, he really doesn’t — and especially not against the Flyers.
Crosby matched a postseason-best with four points on a goal and three assists to help the Pittsburgh Penguins silence the raucous crowd and beat Philadelphia 5-1 on Sunday for a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.
“When we needed to, we made some good plays, we got some big saves and that’s what you need this time of year,” Crosby said.
It’s the path Pittsburgh took the last two seasons all the way to parade routes in June.
Crosby, who has 93 points in 63 career regular-season games against Philly, shut up the orange-and-black die-hards with a wraparound goal off a turnover midway through the first.
Crosby had a hat trick in Game 1 and the three-time Stanley Cup champion showed no sign of easing up against his nemesis.
The Flyers haven’t won a playoff series since 2012 and pulled out all the theatrical stops in their return to the postseason after a one-year absence.
Flyers fans even stuck photos of the hated Crosby inside the urinals throughout the arena that had to guarantee they were more on target with their shots than anyone on the home team’s roster.
“It’s not the first building that’s happened in,” Crosby said, smiling. “I don’t know if they stole that idea from someone else.”
Two of the so-called fiercest rivals in the NHL have provided three lopsided games: Pittsburgh’s 7-0 win in Game 1 and Philadelphia’s 5-1 victory in Game 2 could about qualify as nail-biters in this series.
Game 4 is Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Crosby scored his fourth goal of the series in the first period, and Derick Brassard, Evgeni Malkin and Brian Dumoulin scored in the second to make it 4-0. Malkin and Dumoulin scored 5 seconds apart.
“After the third goal, I should’ve taken a timeout,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “That would’ve been one thing to stop that momentum.”
Justin Schultz made it 5-1 in the third on Pittsburgh’s third power-play goal of the game.
Matt Murray stopped 26 shots to make it stick.
Brian Elliott, yanked in Game 1, had another rough outing and might need to borrow fellow Wells Fargo Center tenant Joel Embiid’s black mask to have a better look at the puck.
Elliott, who had 21 saves, was stunned at how easily the Penguins scored twice in 5 seconds.
“Guy walking down main street,” he said.
The Flyers ran a video package full of bloody fights, big goals and memorable moments between the teams through the years with a “Bitter Rivals” caption. The Penguins could have just looked in their reflection from the 2016 and 2017 Cups and shrugged off the idea the Flyers are in their league.
Brassard scored on the power play just 2:48 into the second. The Pens hit with back-to-back stunning goals that put the icing on the urinal cake: Malkin scored on a one-timer and Dumoulin off the faceoff beat Elliott through the five-hole for a 4-0 lead.
Crosby won the faceoff to set up the goal and had both assists, naturally, on the goals that matched the NHL playoff record for fastest two scores by one team.
“He thrives in that environment,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He has a comfort level in that environment. When stakes are high, in an away building, he tends to play his best. He has an ability to stay in the moment. He doesn’t get rattled. He doesn’t get fazed by adversity. That’s why he’s an elite player and he’s so accomplished.”
At that point, each team had 12 shots.
The Flyers, who played more like the team that lost 10 straight games over November-December, had no shot at pulling off the comeback. Travis Sanheim scored late in the third for the Flyers’ lone goal.
“It’s not time to panic here,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said.
Notes: Flyers great Bobby Clarke was at the game. So was former Flyers captain Peter Forsberg. … Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons was in the house. The Sixers have won 17 straight games. Fans started chanting “Trust the Process!” as the game turned into a rout. … Philadelphia’s 22 wins at home during the regular season were the fewest of any team in the NHL playoffs.