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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 [url=http://www.officialmapleleafsproshop.com]www.officialmapleleafsproshop.com[/url] , 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 [url=http://www.officialmapleleafsproshop.com/authentic-adidas-t-shirts]Toronto Maple Leafs T-Shirts Authentic[/url] , 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.— ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) No team in the ultra-competitive Western Conference has made the playoffs more times in a row than the Minnesota Wild [url=http://www.officialmapleleafsproshop.com/authentic-adidas-hoodie]Toronto Maple Leafs Hoodies Authentic[/url] , with six straight appearances to share the current streak lead with the Anaheim Ducks.That regular season consistency has only led, however, to April dissatisfaction. Ousted in five games by Winnipeg in their first-round series, the Wild were sent again to an early exit from the Stanley Cup tournament. They were shut out by the Jets in the last two contests and finished with a scoreless streak of 141:47.”It’s really disappointing. I don’t think that’s indicative of the kind of team that we have. It was just a really tough night,” center Matt Cullen said after the 5-0 loss in Winnipeg on Friday. ”Obviously with our backs against the wall, I think we all expected more and hoped for more, and I think if we could do it all over again every guy would like to give more.”There was no shame in being beaten by the Jets, a deeper, faster team with an exceptional goalie in Connor Hellebuyck that finished with the second-best record in the NHL in 2017-18. For the Wild, though, there’s an overarching theme of staying stuck at a good-but-not-great level since the franchise-altering signings of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter helped start this remarkable-but-unfulfilling run of making the playoffs every year with the two stars on the roster.”We want more. We expect more from ourselves. We let another one slip away,” right wing Charlie Coyle said.Here are some key angles to the end of the Wild’s season:LOOKING BACKThe Wild are 2-6 in series and 15-29 in games in the postseason during the Parise-Suter era that began on July 4, 2012. The 17-year-old franchise’s only advancement past the second round remains the 2003 surge to the Western Conference finals, where the Wild were swept by the Ducks.The postseason trouble encountered by the Wild used to be in the form of the Chicago Blackhawks [url=http://www.officialmapleleafsproshop.com/authentic-adidas-hats]Toronto Maple Leafs Hats Authentic[/url] , who eliminated them in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in the first and third of those years. They lost in the first round in 2016 and 2017, though, and failed to make the playoffs this spring for the first time in 10 years. So Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are no longer the problem.Now Nashville and Winnipeg have taken the lead in the daunting Central Division, with the Predators taking the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record one season after reaching the Stanley Cup finals. Six of the seven teams made the playoffs either last year or this year.”We certainly believed that we could give these guys a real run for it even though nobody seemed to be giving us a chance,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. ”We’re one play away each game. I know that’s easy to say, but it’s really how close it was besides tonight.”BANGED UPThis year, in fairness, one of the hurdles to postseason success became the rare absence of Suter, who has long been one of the NHL’s most durable players as a puck-moving, tough-minded defenseman. His broken ankle diluted the blue line in the final week of the regular season.Then Parise, whose late-season surge signaled he was all the way back from the back injury and surgery that kept him out for the first 39 games, was knocked out of action with a broken sternum suffered in Game 3 against the Jets.”Every team has injuries, right?” captain Mikko Koivu said [url=http://www.officialmapleleafsproshop.com/authentic-adidas-customized]Custom Toronto Maple Leafs Jerseys[/url] , adding: ”For sure that hurts, there’s no question about that. But we can’t go behind that.”CULLEN MULLINGMatt Cullen, after winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017, put off retirement for another year and returned to his home-state team with 11 goals, 11 assists and valuable leadership at age 41. He wasn’t ready to address his future after Game 5.”My only thought here the last while was getting it back home for Game 6,” Cullen said. ”So to be honest I don’t have an answer right now.”QUIET COYLENot every forward will be productive in a playoff series, of course, but the Wild were hurting without any goals or assists by three of their top-nine forwards: Coyle, Nino Niederreiter and Jason Zucker. Coyle, who had only 11 goals during the regular season, was especially ineffective against the Jets.”Had plenty of chances to finish. I didn’t finish. Or the goalie came up big,” Coyle said. ”Whatever it is I didn’t get the job done. That hurts.”—
on January 20 at 09:54 PM

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