The Pittsburgh Penguins have been having their way with their cross-state rivals.
The Penguins try for their sixth win in as many tries this season against the league-worst Philadelphia Flyers when the teams meet on Saturday.
Pittsburgh (18-17-7) heads into Philadelphia having outscored the Flyers 28-11 this season, winning the first five meetings between the Atlantic Division foes. Three of the games have been decided by four goals or more.
Philadelphia had not lost five games to the Penguins in a season since 1992-93, when it went 1-5-1 in the series.
Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby, who leads the NHL with 65 points and 44 assists, has been especially dominant against the Flyers. The second-year center, who has 14 goals and 15 assists in 13 career games against Philadelphia, has seven goals and eight assists in this season’s series.
In the most recent matchup, an 8-4 victory on Dec. 13 in Pittsburgh, Crosby had a career-best six points, scoring one goal and assisting on five.
“It’s been a rivalry before I got here, but it’s continued since,” Crosby told the Penguins’ official Web site. “You expect it to be an emotional, intense game. I don’t do anything specific; I just prepare the same way.”
Crosby was held without a point for the first time in five games and just the ninth time this season in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to Florida. The Penguins fell to 0-30-1 over the last two seasons when he has not recorded a point.
“It’s a process for us,” coach Michel Therrien said. “It can be very frustrating for us, with a young team.”
Goalie Antero Niittymaki made 22 saves and dropped his 12th straight decision.
Still, Flyers coach John Stevens insists his team is getting better.
“I know with the score you guys are going to think I’m crazy,” Stevens said. “But we did a lot of good things and I thought tonight there were long stretches where we carried the play.”
The Flyers have won a league-low three home games this season, and have dropped seven straight on home ice since a 3-2 victory over Columbus on Nov. 24.
Center Peter Forsberg returned Thursday after missing four games with a strained groin and assisted on Pitkanen’s goal. He is two assists shy of 600 for his career.
“I thought we played pretty decently the first two periods,” Forsberg said. “I thought we had a lot of chances on net and in the second period we were in the game. Unfortunately, we fall a little short all the time.”