Crosby's 6-point outburst leads Penguins to 8-4 win vs. Flyers

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Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Marc-Andre Fleury looks back at the puck off a shot by Philadelphia's Simon Gagne and saves it before it goes into the net last night.
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Philadelphia sent a fourth-round draft choice and considerations to Anaheim for left winger Todd Fedoruk last month because it wanted to add some toughness.

Good thing the Flyers weren't looking to add intelligence.

For while Fedoruk is an accomplished fighter and owns one of hockey's better nicknames ("The Fridge"), he apparently isn't one of the game's great thinkers.

Not based on his actions at the end of the first period in the Penguins' 8-4 victory against the Flyers at Mellon Arena last night, anyway.

As the teams adjourned to their locker rooms, Fedoruk shoved Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who was preparing to do a live interview with TSN, a Canadian network, in the neutral zone.

Shrewd move.

When Fedoruk decided to burn off a little excess testosterone, Crosby had one goal and one assist.

Less than 91/2 minutes later, he had one goal and four assists, and a nice start on a six-point evening.

Crosby said being jostled by Fedoruk was "not really" a source of motivation -- never mind what it looked like -- and perhaps he was correct, since he routinely puts up garish numbers against the Flyers.

He has played them 13 times during his first season-plus in the NHL. During that time, he has accumulated 14 goals and 15 assists, including seven goals and eight assists in five games this season.

"It's been a rivalry, and everyone on the team gets up for that game," Crosby said. "But to say I do anything different, I don't think I do."

Crosby's latest rampage hoisted him into first place in the NHL scoring race, with 15 goals and 32 assists. That's good for a three-point lead over New York Rangers right winger Jaromir Jagr, who has 44.

It also overshadowed a fairly spectacular performance by defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who had two goals and three assists, and Ryan Malone's best night of the season, as he scored one goal and set up three others.

"That's totally fine with me," Gonchar said. "He was flying out there, making unbelievable plays.

The Penguins are 5-0 against Philadelphia, just the fourth time in franchise history they have won five games against the Flyers in a season. They also did it in 1969-70 (5-1-2), 1991-92 (5-0-2) and 1992-93 (5-1-1).

The victory was the Penguins' third in a row -- a streak surpassed only by a five-game streak Oct. 19-Nov. 1 -- and raised their record to 14-11-5.

The Penguins scored on their first two shots against Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki -- Chris Thorburn beat him with a wrist shot from the slot at 4:06, Crosby with a backhander from below the left dot 60 seconds later -- but didn't seem to catch onto the trend there, because they didn't put another puck on goal until the middle of the period.

By the time they did, the Flyers had pulled even, as rookie Ryan Potulny banked a shot off the skate of Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and into the net at 5:33 and Fedoruk threw a rebound past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury at 9:07.

Flyers forward R.J. Umberger evened out the own-goals count at 12:50, however, when he inadvertently deflected a Gonchar shot past Niittymaki while Fedoruk was serving a holding minor.

Fleury adjourned to the locker room for skate repairs just as the second period was about to begin and, when he returned just under six minutes later, the Penguins' lead had doubled.

Malone got the goal, his first of the season, at 5:56 when he controlled the carom of a Crosby shot near the right side of the crease and stuck a shot inside the far post.

"It was a nice bounce, right on my tape," Malone said. "I was hoping for one of those."

At 7:17, Gonchar made it 5-2 by taking a feed from Crosby and beating Niittymaki from the slot, a goal that knocked Niittymaki out of the game, at least briefly.

Mark Recchi put the Penguins up by four at 9:29, punching a rebound past Niittymaki's replacement, Martin Houle, at which point Flyers coach John Stevens put Niittymaki back into the game.

Philadelphia's Kyle Calder scored while short-handed at 2:20 of the third and, after Michel Ouellet got that goal back for the Penguins 50 seconds later, Mike Knuble countered for Philadelphia at 4:41.

But rookie, Jordan Staal put an exclamation point on the victory with a spectacular short-handed goal with 6.9 seconds to play as he undressed defenseman Lars Jonsson before beating Niittymaki.

A thoroughly memorable goal by Staal. At least partly Crosby didn't earn an assist on it.


Correction/Clarification: (Published Dec. 15, 2006) Sergei Gonchar had two goals and three assists in the Penguins' 8-4 victory against the Flyers on Dec. 13, 2006. His assist total was incorrect in this story as originally published Dec. 14, 2006. An accompanying photo showed Ryan Whitney and Mark Recchi congratulating Sidney Crosby for scoring a goal in the first period of the game. The caption incorrectly said Mr. Recchi scored the goal.Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Ryan Whitney, left, and Sidney Crosby celebrate with Mark Recchi after Crosby's goal in the first period last night against Philadelphia.
Click photo for larger image.
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Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Sergei Gonchar, left, and Chris Thorburn celebrate Thorburn's goal in the first period that started the Penguins' rout of the Flyers.
Click photo for larger image.

Dave Molinari can be reached at DWMolinari@Yahoo.com .


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