It's been almost ten years since their instant classic playoff series but the rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers is heating up, with Sidney Crosby at the forefront.
Crosby has flat-out dominated the Flyers, registering 29 points in his last 18 games against the inter-state foe, and the Penguins superstar was at it again Tuesday with a slick finish to give his team a 3-0 lead. It's such an audacious finish that Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov was left looking helpless, though he's far from Crosby's first victim.
He would add another goal and assist, as the Penguins emerged with a 7-3 win.
Philadelphia has been eliminated from playoff contention but that's not to say it has nothing to play for. Crosby bumped into Sean Couturier after the whistle and Travis Konecny wasn't having any of it.
Both players wrestled to the ground and Konecny briefly put Crosby in a head lock. Although Crosby isn't known for his physical play, he can defend himself quite well, and won the exchange by pinning Konecny down after using his exceptional lower-body strength to get out of the head lock. Most importantly, especially in light of recent events in the East Division, is that no one got hurt.
The recent history of the Penguins-Flyers rivalry is full of heated battles, as both teams generated a cumulative 309 penalty minutes in their 2012 series, but there were also 56 goals in that first-round matchup, an ideal combination of grit and talent on display, with the Flyers emerging in six games. There are still a few holdovers from each team, with Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang all looking for their fourth Stanley Cup ring, while Couturier and Claude Giroux are the veteran stalwarts for the Flyers.
More recently, the Penguins eliminated the Flyers in 2018, before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.
Crosby is quietly having another terrific year with 21 goals and 57 points in 52 games prior to Tuesday's contest. With the regular season winding down, Crosby appears to be rounding into top form, in every facet of his game.
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