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Sid has been sensational against Flyers

by John Kreiser
Not that Sidney Crosby struggles to score against anyone. But if he and the Pittsburgh Penguins played the Philadelphia Flyers more often, he'd be a lock to win the scoring championship.

Crosby added to his career domination Thursday night with the tying goal in a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers in Philadelphia. It was his 22nd career goal and 50th point in 29 regular-season games against the Flyers, his best totals against any team. He also had a goal and a pair of assists in a 6-1 win over the Flyers on Tuesday.

The two wins gave the Penguins their first home-and-home sweep of the Flyers since Dec. 15-17, 1992, when they won 6-2 at home and 5-4 in OT at the Spectrum. Happily for the Flyers, the teams don't meet again until Jan. 7 in Pittsburgh.

Perhaps appropriately, Crosby also scored in the shootout that decided Thursday's win. That made him 5-for-5 in shootouts this season (not coincidentally, the Penguins have won all five). It's an amazing turnaround for Crosby, who was 12-for-38 (31.6 percent) before this season.

No carryover -- Colorado's Wojtek Wolski is the opposite of Crosby -- someone whose shootout touch seems to have disappeared.

Wolski was lethal in shootouts last season, scoring 10 times in 12 tries for a League-leading 83.3 percent success rate. But something must have happened over the summer, because Wolski's touch is gone. He's just 1-for-7 this season -- though thanks to last season's prowess, he's still 18-for-33 (54.5 percent) for his career.

Almost -- Dwayne Roloson missed by just 55 seconds of achieving something that no New York Islanders goaltender except Billy Smith has done since the franchise entered the NHL in 1972. Roloson entered the final minute of the Islanders' game at Madison Square Garden with a 2-0 lead, only to see Enver Lisin score a sixth-attacker goal at 19:05 to spoil his shutout. That leaves Smith still by himself as the only Islanders goaltender to blank the Rangers in the 132 meetings (112 regular-season, 20 playoffs) between the teams at the Garden. Smith blanked the Rangers 3-0 on Dec. 17, 1975.

Beat the clock -- The New Jersey Devils are right at home playing tight games, so it's no surprise they're tops in the NHL at winning games late in regulation.

Patrik Elias' goal with 2:36 left on Wednesday gave the Devils a 2-1 win over Montreal and marked the fourth time this season the Devils have gotten the go-ahead goal in the last four minutes of regulation -- something no other team has done more than twice.

Jamie Langenbrunner scored with 39 seconds left in a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay on Dec. 4; Dainius Zubrus gave New Jersey a 2-1 win by scoring with 1:26 left at Boston on Oct. 29, and David Clarkson scored with 3:35 to play in a 3-2 win over Florida on Oct. 10.

Los Angeles has a different distinction in playing "beat the clock." The Kings have won both their visits to Edmonton by scoring the tie-breaking goal in the last five minutes of regulation. Wayne Simmonds did it on Nov. 25 when he scored with 4:48 remaining, while defenseman Sean O'Donnell's goal with 4:33 remaining gave L.A. a 3-2 win on Wednesday. The goal broke a 157-game goal drought for O'Donnell; only Minnesota's Derek Boogaard (now 189 games) and Vancouver's Shane O'Brien (163) had gone longer without a goal.

Comeback kids? Not here -- Comebacks, especially from multi-goal deficits, have been a big theme in the NHL this season -- except in New York.

The Rangers are one of three teams that have yet to win a game when trailing after two periods so far this season. But unlike Toronto (0-15-4) and San Jose (0-7-1), the Rangers haven't managed so much as a point in the 13 games in which they've trailed after 40 minutes -- the only team in the League that's pointless when they're down after two periods.

In contrast, the Rangers are superb when holding a lead after 40 minutes -- they're 13-0-1 in those games.

Killed by their penalty kill -- The New York Islanders have been doing a good job staying out of the penalty box -- and it's a good thing, because their penalty-killers aren't doing the job.

The Islanders have given opponents just 31 power plays in their last nine games (3.4 per game). But the opposition has turned those 31 chances into 13 power-play goals, a 58.1 percent success ratio that has dropped them to 28th in the NHL on the penalty kill. The Islanders are having most of their troubles on the road, where they're tied for the League lead with 21 power-play goals allowed.

A first for the Thrashers -- It took more than a decade, but the Atlanta Thrashers finally own a home victory over the Dallas Stars.

Thursday's 6-5 overtime win marked the first time in six visits by the Stars that Dallas went home with less than two points. The Stars had been 5-0-0 at Philips Arena since Atlanta entered the NHL in 1999. In all, the Thrashers are 2-9-1 in their 12 meetings with Dallas; prior to Thursday, their only previous win came at Dallas on Jan. 18, 2006.

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