Sidney Crosby scored two goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins regained first place in the East Division with a 7-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Marcus Pettersson, Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker, Mark Friedman and John Marino also scored goals while Tristan Jarry had 30 saves for the Penguins, who moved two points ahead of idle Washington and bounced back from a 7-2 loss to the Flyers on Monday night.
“These guys are proud guys and terrific players and leaders on our team,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “When they have a night when they don’t play as well as their expectations, they find a way to respond. … We were much better tonight and it started with our leaders.”
The Flyers got goals from Justin Braun, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny. Brian Elliott had 24 saves in the loss.
“It was safe to figure that Sid — after having a tough game (on Monday) and him being the great player that he was, he would have a bounce-back game and he certainly did,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said.
After posting minus-4 showings Monday night, the Penguins’ top line of Crosby, Guentzel and Brian Rust dominated the game.
“I don’t think anyone was happy with it,” Crosby said. “It was a response game for all of us. I think in particular that for our line, it wasn’t a good game. We bounced back, got an important two points and we move on from here.”
For Crosby, his two goals were the 48th and 49th in 77 games against the Flyers in one of the sport’s most intense rivalries. The only other Penguins player to have more against Philadelphia was Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, who scored 51 in 71 games against the Flyers.
“I think there’s a lot of history there,” Crosby said. “A good chunk of guys on both teams have been in this rivalry for a while. They are intense, more emotional and it brings out everyone’s best. We did a good job of playing all around better game today.”
Crosby’s first goal — a deflection of a stick-to-stick pass from Pettersson that slipped under Elliott’s pad — gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead.
The Flyers rallied, however, as Braun and Couturier had back-to-back tallies in the second period.
Zucker and Konecny traded goals less than three minutes apart in the third period to make it 4-3 Penguins with nine minutes to play.
Crosby, however, put the game out of reach when he one-timed Bryan Rust’s pass from the left faceoff circle that went between Elliott’s legs for a 5-3 lead with under eight minutes to play.
Friedman scored an empty-net goal a few minutes later while Marino added his third goal of the season on a power play after Shayne Gostisbehere crosschecked Friedman following his goal as the final game between the two this season saw some extra aggressiveness.
“Just from a standpoint from our team, we needed to be better,” said Guentzel, who scored his 23rd goal of the season early in the second period. “Tonight from the start, we were good and from our standpoint, we were much better tonight than we were last night.”
Tuesday was Elliott’s 500th game in the NHL. The 36-year-old became the 77th goaltender in league history to play in that many games. Twelve of those 77 goalies are active with Ryan Miller (795 games) having recently announced his retirement.
Penguins: Host Buffalo on Thursday.
Flyers: At Washington Friday.