SI­MON SAYS SO

Crosby helps Pen­guins rout Fly­ers in Game 3

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Dan Gel­ston

PHILADEL­PHIA » The kitschy lightup 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 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-bit­ters 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.

TOM MI­HALEK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’, from left to right, Sid­ney Crosby, Pa­tric Horn­qvist, Ev­geni Malkin, Justin Schultz and Phil Kes­sel, gather to cel­e­brate

TOM MI­HALEK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Philadel­phia Fly­ers’ Brian Elliott, wipes his face dur­ing a break in the ac­tion af­ter the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins scored a goal dur­ing the third pe­riod in Game 3 of an NHL first-round hockey play­off se­ries Sun­day in Philadel­phia, Pa.

TOM MI­HALEK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The puck bounces back out of the net be­hind Philadel­phia Fly­ers goalie Brian Elliott af­ter Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ Justin Schultz, not pic­tured, scored a power play goal dur­ing the third pe­riod in Game 3 of an NHL first-round hockey play­off se­ries Sun­day...

TOM MI­HALEK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Philadel­phia Fly­ers’ Travis San­heim, left, chases Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ Conor Sheary, right, who con­trols the pucks dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod in Game 3 of an NHL first-round hockey play­off se­ries Sun­day in Philadel­phia, Pa. The Pen­guins won 5-1.

TOM MI­HALEK — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pitts­burgh Pen­guins’ Sid­ney Crosby, right, po­si­tions him­self in front of the net and Philadel­phia Fly­ers goalie Brian Elliott, left, and Ivan Provorov dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod in Game 3 of an NHL first-round hockey play­off se­ries Sun­day in...

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