The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA–Sidney Crosby passed Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh’s record book and pushed the Philadelphia Flyers to the brink of elimination.
Flyers fans booed the goal–and the ones that stuck around for the end belted a familiar refrain: “Fire Hakstol! Fire Hakstol!”
Crosby scored his fifth goal of the series, and became the Penguins’ career post-season points leader, in a 5-0 win over the Flyers last night.
The Penguins lead the first-round playoff series 3-1 as its shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 tomorrow night.
Crosby and the Penguins followed a 7-0 Game 1 win and a 5-1 Game 3 victory with another dominant outing.
Matt Murray stopped 26 shots for his second shutout of the series, and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins now are a win away from playing in the second round for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons.
Crosby scored in the second period for a 4-0 lead, and topped the team owner and Hall-of-Famer in Lemieux for most playoff points with 173.
“A lot of his records aren’t going to be touched,” Crosby said. “The fact I can be close to him and around that one, I guess I’ve been fortunate to play in a number of playoff games helps a lot.”
The Flyers already were on their second goalie by the time Crosby scored. The Penguins chased Brian Elliott early in the period after the maligned goalie allowed his 14th goal of the series.
Michal Neuvirth relived Elliott and it didn’t matter. Neuvirth lost track of the puck behind the net and had his head turned to the right when Crosby found it and snapped it under the goalie’s left skate.
“I was in a good spot. The puck ended up right on my stick,” Crosby noted.
The Flyers were confused. The Penguins were composed.
And it so it goes in Philly–the Flyers are a loss away from another empty season without the Stanley Cup.
“Somehow, we need to get our confidence back and go from there,” said team captain Claude Giroux.
Disgruntled Flyers’ fans chanted from the balcony to the concourse for the Flyers to fire third-year coach Dave Hakstol.
Both teams played without key cogs in their lineup. Sean Couturier (who had career highs with 31 goals and 76 points) was injured Tuesday at practice in a vicious collision with teammate Radko Gudas.
The Pens played without top-line forward Patric Hornqvist because of an undisclosed injury.
Giroux, who scored 102 points during the season, has not scored a post-season goal since 2014.
“One game away for the season to be over,” Giroux said. “You can expect this team to have some fight the next game.”
The Flyers pulled out all their good-luck charms.
The national champion Villanova Wildcats were in the house and star guard Phil Booth screamed, “Are you ready for some hockey?”
Flyers’ fans heard the usual stirring rendition of “God Bless America,” live by Lauren Hart and on video by the late Kate Smith.
The song has been a rallying anthem for the Flyers since Smith began singing it in the mid-1970s.
Hart started the song, then looked up to the big screen and passed it off to Smith. They finished in a split-screen duet.
But once the pageantry settled down, the Penguins poured it on.
Crosby’s on-point pass on the power play led to Evgeni Malkin’s third goal of the playoff just 4:33 into the game.
Phil Kessel scored his first of the post-season midway through the period.
Kris Letang made it 3-0 in the second and that was all for Elliott.
Riley Sheahan made it 5-0 late in the third. Neuvirth stopped 11-of-13 shots in relief.
“We won in their building on the second game so that’s the attitude we’re going to take,” Neuvirth said.
Murray was solid again, and stoned Travis Konency on a breakaway out of the penalty box in the second that had the second-year centre slam his stick on the ice in anger.
“They had their chances, at times,” Murray noted. “But we got the job done.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Tampa Bay beat New Jersey 3-1 and Nashville edged Colorado 3-2 to lead their respective series 3-1.
San Jose nipped Anaheim 2-1 to sweep that first-round series 4-0.