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Crosby sets the tone in Penguins' win

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

It was Halloween Night at PPG Paints Arena, and the Philadelphia Flyers left feeling spooked. 

The Penguins, led by their captain Sidney Crosby, scored four goals in the first period en route to a 7-1 drubbing on Tuesday night. 

Crosby, 32, scored a goal and three points in the contest, and he looked like, well, Sidney Crosby. Meaning he was relentless at both ends of the rink and completely dominant on every shift. And the stat sheet bore out that result. 

Goals: 1
Assists: 2 
Points: 3
Plus-minus: +3
Shots: 6
Faceoffs: 8-6 (57 percent)

Heck, he even threw in two penalty minutes for good measure. If it weren't for him seeing limited ice time in the third period with the lopsided score (he finished with 16:51 minutes in the game), Crosby could have finished with four, five, even six points on the evening. 

Crosby always gets up for contests against the Penguins cross-state rivals. He now has 102 career points (42G-60A) in just 68 career regular-season games against Philadelphia. 

"You knew there is always a little more in those games (against the Flyers)," Crosby said.

That moved him past Wayne Gretzky for fourth place on the all-time points list against the Flyers - behind only three former Penguins (Mario Lemieux, 124; Jaromir Jagr, 120; Bryan Trottier, 117). 

"I wasn't aware of that. Those are side notes that you guys keep track of," Crosby said. "That's good. Those are big games and you want to play well in those ones." 

Crosby set up the Penguins' third goal of the evening to get his first point of the night. He won a puck battle in the corner and found linemate Dominik Simon streaking into the circle. See-pass-shot-goal. 

Video: PHI@PIT: Simon scores as Crosby reaches personal mark

Next, Crosby took matters (or the puck) into his own hands. He backpedaled through the slot with the puck on his stick. He waited, waited, waited, boom. Top shelf and a 4-0 lead for Pittsburgh. 

Video: PHI@PIT: Crosby goes top shelf from sharp angle

Was the captain satisfied with that? Of course not. Set scene for the second period. A loose puck was bouncing around the Flyers' crease. Crosby was battling at the post with Ivan Provorov. Jake Guentzel's shot from the slot went off the post, and Provorov accidentally knocked the puck into his own net due to the pressure from Crosby. 

Video: PHI@PIT: Guentzel puts home loose puck

Crosby played the contest wearing protective face gear around his chin after getting hit in the face by a shot last Saturday. He noted that the gear makes it harder to see when you look down. It didn't seem to bother him too much on this evening. 

Though he did think that he would have scored on Guentzel's goal had he been able to see the puck in his feet. 

"I would normally have that one, I'd like to think," Crosby said. "A few around the net when the puck's in your feet it's harder to pick up."

Perhaps most impressive though is the plays that don't end up on that stat sheet. Crosby was strong on the puck in the offensive zone, circling around the goal and using his strong frame to guard against checkers. Whenever he lost the puck, Crosby was quick to retrieve it. 

Crosby took a heavy hit from Philadelphia's Matt Niskanen. His response? Got right back on his feet, charged to the net and got off a shot. 

And those are the plays that set the tone for the rest of the team. As defenseman Brian Dumoulin said of the top line: "They are the horse that drives the cart."

As Crosby leads, the Pens will follow. And they followed him to a 7-1 victory. 

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