Sidney Crosby had an outstanding rookie season last year, but wins came few and far between for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Crosby's stellar play has continued this season, and this time the wins have followed.
Crosby looks to lead the Penguins to their fourth straight win over the Philadelphia Flyers when the Atlantic Division rivals meet at the Wachovia Center on Monday.
Crosby had 39 goals and 63 assists and was runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy last season, but Pittsburgh (9-7-2) went 22-46-14 to finish last in the Eastern Conference.
Crosby is tied for fourth in the league with 29 points (nine goals, 19 assists) this season, including two assists in the Penguins' 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday. The victory was the ninth of the season for Pittsburgh, which didn't reach that mark until Dec. 29 last season, in its 36th game.
The 19-year-old Crosby has three goals and three assists in his last three games.
"If we can play like that, and have 20 guys pushing in the right direction, we can be a good team, and a tough team to play against, and that's how we have to keep playing," said Mark Recchi, who scored two goals Saturday to give him three goals and three assists in his last four games.
The Penguins have won two of their last three after a season-high five-game losing streak, which ended with a 3-2 win over Philadelphia (5-13-2) last Monday.
After going just 2-5-1 against the Flyers last year, Pittsburgh has won all three meetings in 2006-07, outscoring them 15-4. They have not won four straight against Philadelphia since Dec. 15, 1992-Jan. 30, 1993.
Crosby has five goals and two assists against Philadelphia this season, and recorded his first career hat trick an 8-2 Penguins win over the Flyers on Oct. 28. He has 12 goals and nine assists in 11 career games versus Philadelphia.
While Crosby and the offense have attacked the Flyers' goal, Marc-Andre Fleury has been solid in net for the Penguins.
Fleury has started all three meetings, posting a 1.34 goals-against average and a shutout. H
The Flyers return home after going 2-2 on a four-game road trip, which ended with a 6-1 defeat to San Jose on Saturday.
"I don't think you can ever be satisfied with being .500 when you lose your last game by that score," Philadelphia coach John Stevens said.
The Flyers fell behind 2-0 less than five minutes into the game, and are 0-11-1 when giving up the first goal this season.
Goaltender Robert Esche was pulled at the 12:25 mark of the second period after stopping only 12 of 18 shots.
Antero Niittymaki has started six of Philadelphia's last nine games, but has gone only 1-4-1 over that span. Niittymaki is also 0-2 with a 5.12 GAA against Pittsburgh this season.