Sheary, Crosby lead Penguins past Flyers and into 1st place
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By AARON BRACY
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Sidney Crosby's continued dominance of the Flyers helped the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins move back into first place.
Conor Sheary scored two goals, Crosby had three assists and Pittsburgh surged into the top spot in the Metropolitan Division with a 5-2 victory over the Flyers on Wednesday night.
Phil Kessel, Jamie Oleksiak and Evgeni Malkin also scored for the Penguins, who have won three straight. Pittsburgh (39-25-4, 82 points) moved one point ahead of idle Washington and three in front of third-place Philadelphia.
Crosby continued to haunt the Flyers, upping his total to 91 points in 62 career games against Pittsburgh's intrastate rival.
"Everybody gets up for it," Crosby said of the rivalry. "It brings out the best in everybody."
Crosby's third assist gave him 1,100 career points.
"His line was dynamic," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
Sheary began the game on the fourth line, but played alongside Crosby for parts of the night - and benefited greatly. Crosby assisted on both goals to help Sheary break out of a slump, as he entered without a goal in 15 straight contests.
"He goes to tough areas and plays bigger than he is," Crosby said of the 5-foot-8 Sheary.
"Thrilled for Conor," Sullivan said. "Essentially what I told him is, `Nothing lasts forever.'"
"We didn't play a complete game 5-on-5," Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said. "We made some mistakes."
The teams combined for six goals in an electrifying second period.
Voracek netted his 15th of the season 2:07 into the period to tie it at 1. Nolan Patrick caused a turnover with strong backchecking, passed to Voracek and his shot from the side boards deflected off Pittsburgh's Derick Brassard and past Tristan Jarry.
Konecny put Philadelphia ahead 3:54 later when he batted the puck over Jarry's right pad.
But the Penguins scored three straight goals to take a 4-2 lead into the third.
"They scored when they needed to score," Voracek said. "They make you pay."
Oleksiak tied it at 2 with 10:36 remaining with a slap shot that got through the screen of Crosby and Jake Guentzel and past Peter Mrazek.
"He can really shoot the puck, has a bomb of a shot," Sullivan said.
Sheary gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead with his first of the night, finishing a 2-on-1 break with Crosby with 5:35 remaining in the period. Mrazek made a good pad save on Crosby's initial shot. But the rebound went right to Sheary, who backhanded it in for his 13th of the season.
Sheary's second goal from a sharp angle with 49.3 seconds left in the period put Pittsburgh ahead by two goals. Guentzel's shot from the high slot deflected off Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning to a wide-open Sheary to the right of the net, and Mrazek couldn't recover in time. Crosby got a secondary assist on the goal, his third of the night.
Kessel, playing in his 900th NHL game, opened the scoring with 1:25 left in the first period on the power play on assists from Malkin and Crosby. Malkin set the goal up with a perfect pass across the crease, and Kessel converted the easy finish with a forehand shot for his 28th goal.
Malkin's goal was an empty-netter with 1:41 remaining.
NOTES: Philadelphia Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks helped provided on-ice commentary during the first period. ... Pittsburgh improved to 3-0 against the Flyers this season. The teams wrap up their regular-season series on March 25 in Pittsburgh. ... Mrazek has allowed 19 goals while losing the last four games. ... Philadelphia F Wayne Simmonds returned after missing seven games due to a lower-body injury. D Andrew MacDonald also was back on the ice after sitting out Sunday's 4-1 loss at Florida due to an upper-body injury. ... Pittsburgh RW Bryan Rust (upper body) didn't return after being checked by Robert Hagg with 11:32 left in the first period, and C Dominik Simon (lower body) didn't play after getting hurt in the second period. Sullivan said both would be re-evaluated Thursday.
Penguins: At Toronto on Saturday night.
Flyers: At Boston on Thursday night.
Updated March 7, 2018