Jeff Carter and Michael Handzus scored in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the third period and the Flyers preserved late lead this time, beating Pittsburgh 6-3 on Saturday night in a feisty rematch of the Penguins' overtime victory four nights before.
Simon Gagne scored his NHL-leading 19th and 20th goals of the season and Philadelphia improved to a league-best 10-1-1 on the road after dropping its previous three games, including successive home overtime losses to the Penguins on Wednesday and Atlanta on Friday.
Crosby scored the winning goal on a breakaway Wednesday, and also got Pittsburgh's first goal in the rematch. He also had one of his first on-ice confrontations with an established star, yelling expletives at Peter Forsberg when the Flyers' star made a hand gesture suggesting Crosby dives to take penalties - a theme initiated earlier in the week by Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock.
``It's not the first time I've been accused of something, but it's pretty obvious what they're trying to do. Obviously, they're trying to get me off my game. ... But it's something that isn't there,'' said Crosby, who has four goals and two assists in three games against Philadelphia.
Forsberg laughed about the exchange of words, saying, ``It looked kind of suspicious to me. That's all I said.''
However, he seemed to acknowledge the Flyers' talk about Crosby is all a ploy, saying, ``I know I was (accused of it) in my first couple of years, too.''
Crosby was disappointed by Forsberg's reaction and Hitchcock's talk, but added, ``Obviously they're the ones who are happy right now and we're not.''
After the Penguins rallied three times from one-goal deficits, Carter put in his own rebound early in the third period after goalie Jocelyn Thibault stopped his initial shot, only to lose sight of a puck that sat on the ice along the goal line. Carter swatted it in for his seventh goal.
Handzus followed 41 seconds later with his fifth goal, picking up a loose puck and skating in to beat Thibault with a wrist shot. The Flyers and goalie Antero Niittymaki made the lead hold up, a night after Philadelphia squandered the same 5-3 lead late in the third by allowing Atlanta to score twice in the final 1:50 of what became a 6-5 overtime loss with Robert Esche in net.
``At least we kept on playing, we didn't sit back and wait for them to come at us like we did the last couple of games,'' Forsberg said. ``We kept on playing and we got another goal.''
The Flyers, playing their third game in four nights, led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 only to have the Penguins answer each time.
Gagne's second goal deflected off former teammate Mark Recchi's stick on a 3-on-1 short-handed breakaway at 16:24 of the second. The Penguins got a tying power play goal 9 seconds later on rookie Erik Christensen's shot from the top of the right circle off a Ziggy Palffy pass that deflected off defenseman Joni Pitkanen's stick, but Pittsburgh mounted little offense after that against Niittymaki, who made 27 saves.
Christensen's power play goal was set up when Crosby was tripped by Mike Rathje, prompting Forsberg's swim-move motion. The Flyers made the accusations even though Crosby needed four stitches in his lip and repairs to three damaged teeth after twice catching sticks in the face and neck Wednesday from defenseman Derian Hatcher on plays that weren't penalized.
Crosby scored the Penguins' initial goal Saturday by stuffing in John LeClair's behind the back pass about six minutes in, his 10th goal of the season.
Notes: Gagne also assisted on Mike Knuble's empty-net goal with 18 seconds remaining. ... Hatcher was booed whenever he touched the puck. ... Mike Richards also scored for the Flyers.... Pittsburgh and St. Louis are tied with a league-low two home victories. ... The Flyers are 4-0-2 in Pittsburgh since their last loss there Nov. 27, 2002. ... Philadelphia has not lost four in a row since Jan. 8-13, 2004. ... Penguins owner-player Mario Lemieux returned after missing Wednesday's game with a flu-like ailment and assisted on Crosby's goal. ... Crosby met 2004 NL rookie of the year Jason Bay of the Pirates after the game. Crosby said he played baseball as a youngster in Nova Scotia, and Bay played hockey in British Columbia. Bay was in town after signing a $18.25 million contract last week. ... The teams don't play again until Dec. 23 in Pittsburgh.
|Simon Gagne (19) ASST: Mike Knuble (8), Peter Forsberg (29)|
1 - 0 PHI
|PPG - Sidney Crosby (10) ASST: John Leclair (7), Mario Lemieux (13)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Mike Richards (4) ASST: Michal Handzus (13)|
2 - 1 PHI
|Ziggy Palffy (7) ASST: Josef Melichar (2), Richard Jackman (12)|
2 - 2 Tie
|SHG - Simon Gagne (20) ASST: Mike Richards (10)|
3 - 2 PHI
|PPG - Erik Christensen (3) ASST: Ziggy Palffy (15), Ryan Whitney (8)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Jeff Carter (7) ASST: R.J. Umberger (4), Patrick Sharp (2)|
4 - 3 PHI
|Michal Handzus (5) ASST: Turner Stevenson (1), Kim Johnsson (12)|
5 - 3 PHI
|EN - Mike Knuble (11) ASST: Simon Gagne (11), Peter Forsberg (30)|
6 - 3 PHI
|John Leclair Slashing against Mike Richards|
|Branko Radivojevic Hooking against Shane Endicott|
|Lyle Odelein Hooking against Branko Radivojevic|
|Maxime Talbot Holding against Dennis Seidenberg|
|Brian Savage Slashing against Steve Poapst|
|Jocelyn Thibault Delaying Game - Smothering puck|
|Donald Brashear Tripping against John Leclair|
|Chris Therien Interference against Ryan Malone|
|Shane Endicott Holding against Joni Pitkanen|
|Mike Rathje Tripping against Sidney Crosby|
|Matt Murley Hooking against Mike Knuble|
|Peter Forsberg Hooking against Mario Lemieux|
|Mike Rathje Hooking against Erik Christensen|