PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby and Dominik Simon scored during an early four-goal outburst, and the Pittsburgh Penguins drilled the Philadelphia Flyers 7-1 on Tuesday night.
Crosby, wearing a facemask as extra protection after getting hit in the head by a shot over the weekend, added two assists to boost his career point total against the Flyers to 102 as the Penguins rolled to a rare lopsided victory over their cross-state rivals.
Jared McCann, Justin Schultz, Zach Aston-Reese, Jake Guentzel and Dominik Kahun also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray stopped 29 shots to win for the sixth time in his last seven starts.
Oskar Lindblom got his sixth goal for the Flyers, but Philadelphia was simply overwhelmed by the Penguins during a first-period onslaught in which Pittsburgh beat Brian Elliott four times in just more than six minutes. Elliott, given the start two days after Carter Hart was pulled in a loss to the New York Islanders, stuck around to finish with 30 saves but the Flyers were never in it over the final two periods.
The Penguins have spent the opening month of the season focusing on playing a more responsible style of hockey and eschewing the kind of risk-taking that’s made them susceptible to defensive breakdowns at crucial times in the recent past. Injuries to a number of high-profile players — including centre Evgeni Malkin, who remains out with a lower-body issue — have reinforced coach Mike Sullivan’s blue-collar approach, one Sullivan is confident will remain ingrained in his club even as the roster gets healthy.
It certainly looks that way. Bryan Rust and Nick Bjugstad — both of whom missed extended time with injuries — returned on Saturday night in Dallas and the Penguins grinded out a 3-0 win over the Stars. Back home three days later, Pittsburgh looked explosive at one end of the ice and dominant at the other.
Some shaky play by the Flyers certainly helped.
Schultz’s first goal of the season came on an innocent flick from above the right circle 5:57 into the game on a shot that fluttered over Elliott’s right shoulder. While Rust and Kahun occupied three Philadelphia defenders at the side of the net just more than two minutes later, McCann skated into the slot and flipped the puck past Elliott to double Pittsburgh’s lead. The din from McCann’s goal had barely died down when Crosby’s drop pass to Simon gave him plenty of room to beat Elliott and give the Penguins their third goal in a span of 2:49.
Crosby’s assist gave him 100 points in 68 career games against the Flyers. By the end of the period, he pushed the total to 101 thanks to a pretty cross-ice pass from Simon that Crosby turned into his fifth of the season and 42nd all-time against Philadelphia. The score also capped Pittsburgh’s first four-goal first period since Dec. 17, 2011, against Buffalo.
Murray, given little to do while his teammates pounded Elliott early, made sure the cushion stood up. Only Lindblom’s goal 1:57 into the third prevented Murray from posting a second straight shutout.
Philadelphia went 0 for 4 on the power play. The Penguins were 0 for 3 with the man advantage. … The Flyers scratched D Samuel Morin. … Pittsburgh scratched D Chad Ruhwedel and Juuso Riikola and C Sam Lafferty. … The Penguins are 11-4-2 in their last six games against the Flyers. … Pittsburgh has allowed five even-strength goals in its last five games.
Flyers: Visit New Jersey on Friday. Philadelphia drummed the Devils 4-0 on Oct. 9.
Penguins: Get three days off at home before hosting Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
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Will Graves, The Associated Press