PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Sidney Crosby scored his fifth goal of the series and became the Pittsburgh Penguins’ career postseason points leader in a 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.
The Penguins lead the first-round playoff series 3-1 as its shifts to Pittsburgh for Game 5.
Matt Murray stopped 26 shots for his second shutout of the series and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins are a win away from playing in the second round for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons.
Crosby scored in the second period for a 4-0 lead and passed Pittsburgh owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux for most playoff points with 173. Crosby and the Penguins followed a 7-0 Game 1 win and a 5-1 Game 3 victory with another dominant outing.
The Flyers were already on their second goalie by the time Crosby scored. The Penguins chased Brian Elliott early in the period after the maligned goalie allowed his 14th goal of the series. Michal Neuvirth relived Elliott and it didn’t matter. Neuvirth lost track of the puck behind the net and had his head turned to the right when Crosby found it and snapped it under the goalie’s left skate.
The Flyers were confused. The Penguins were composed.
And it so it goes in Philly, the Flyers are on the brink of another empty season without the Stanley Cup.
Game 5 is Friday.
Both teams played without key cogs in their lineup: Sean Couturier (who had career highs with 31 goals and 76 points) was injured Tuesday at practice in a vicious collision with teammate Radko Gudas; the Pens played without top-line forward Patric Hornqvist because of an undisclosed injury.
Couturier, who had a goal and three points in the series, was missed.
“He’s been playing a lot of minutes for us. He plays every situation,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “He brings a lot to this team.”
Giroux, who scored 102 points during the season, has not scored a posteason goal since 2014.
The Flyers pulled out all their good-luck charms.
The national champion Villanova Wildcats were in the house and star guard Phil Booth screamed “Are you ready for some hockey?”
Flyers fans heard the usual stirring rendition of “God Bless America,” live by Lauren Hart and on video by the late Kate Smith. The song has been a rallying anthem for the Flyers since Smith began singing it in the mid 1970s. Hart started the song, then looked up to the big screen and passed it off to Smith. They finished in a split-screen duet.
Once the pageantry settled down, the Penguins poured it on.
Crosby’s on-point pass on the power play led to Evgeni Malkin’s third goal of the playoff just 4:33 into the game. Phil Kessel scored his first of the postseason midway through the period. Kris Letang made it 3-0 in the second and that was all for Elliott.
Riley Sheahan made it 5-0 late in the third.
Murray was solid again, and stoned Travis Konency on a breakaway out of the penalty box in the second that had the second-year center slam his stick on the ice in anger.
NOTES: Couturier was named a Selke Trophy finalist as the league’s best defensive forward. … 2018 Olympic hockey gold medalists Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando hosted a clinic and helped donate equipment on behalf of a volunteer effort at the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Snider was the Flyers founder and chairman until his death in 2016. … Crosby scored on all three goalies the Flyers have used in the series.
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