The Philadelphia Flyers — as usual of late — were dominating their cross-state rivals.
Then Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ power play took over.
Kessel scored twice and Crosby had a goal and an assist as the Penguins ended a long losing streak against the Flyers, 4-3 on Thursday night.
The first period looked like a carryover from last season when Philadelphia swept the series. The Flyers had a 2-0 lead.
Pittsburgh dominated the rest of the way, rallying with four straight goals and outshooting the Flyers 36-21 during the final two periods.
Crosby continued his five-game point streak for the Penguins, who defeated the Flyers for the first time since Oct. 17, 2013, ending an eight-game winless streak. Crosby endured the worst start of his career this season but has points in 12 of his last 15 games including his 15th goal on Thursday.
“You can really feel it in the building when these games go on,” Crosby said. “It’s intense, it’s emotional and it’s a great environment. It’s good to get this one and hopefully we can build off it.”
Kessel scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season and Trevor Daley scored his fourth for the Penguins, who defeated the Flyers in Pittsburgh for the first time since March 24, 2013. Kessel and Daley both scored with the man advantage in the second period as the power play helped swing momentum in Pittsburgh’s favour.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for his 17th win and Steve Mason stopped 41 shots.
Pittsburgh extended a six-game home point streak, winning for just the third time overall in eight games to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt.
“This was a big game for us,” Kessel said. “All the teams are close right now, so these division games are very important.”
Jakub Voracek kept up his seven-game point streak against Pittsburgh with his sixth goal of the season. Claude Giroux scored his 14th, a power-play goal late in the third, but the Flyers couldn’t forge a tie despite a surge in the final minute.
“I think we had a good start and we kind of got caught flat-footed at the beginning of the second and they scored three goals,” Voracek said.
Brayden Schenn scored his 11th on the power play for the Flyers, who are now 13-3-1 overall and 11-2-1 in 14 regular-season games since Consol Energy Center opened in 2010.
The Flyers dropped their second straight overall after winning five of their previous seven. Philadelphia, which could’ve jumped the Penguins in the standings, has 17 wins in its last 25 games against Pittsburgh.
“They got that power-play goal and they got a little bit of life off of it,” Giroux said. “They had the momentum and we kind of sat back a little bit.”
The rivals met for the first time in nine months – the latest date into a full season they played their first game.
Kessel scored the eventual game-winner, his second of the game, early in the third, which was set up by newly acquired Carl Hagelin on a two-on-one. Kessel had gone seven games without a goal.
“I missed a couple like that this year,” Kessel said. “It was nice to get them to go into the net.”
Philadelphia opened the scoring with a pair of first-period power-play goals.
Wayne Simmonds deflected an initial point shot from Shayne Gostisbehere and Schenn put the rebound in a partially open net for the Flyers’ first goal.
Voracek struck 12 seconds into the Flyers’ second power play with a wrist shot over Fleury’s shoulder.
Pittsburgh responded in the second period, using a pair of power-play goals to jump in front.
“These ones are fun to play in and much better when you win,” Crosby said. “It’s nice to be on the right side of that for once.”
NOTES: Flyers’ C Sean Couturier missed Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury. … Penguins’ F Beau Bennett, who hasn’t played since Dec. 14, returned to practice and participated in the morning skate, but didn’t play. … Flyers F Jordan Weal, acquired in a Jan. 6 trade, was a healthy scratch as was D Brandon Manning. Pittsburgh sat D David Warsofsky (concussion), F Sergei Plotnikov and D Derrick Pouliot, who was recalled Jan. 18. … Pittsburgh had its 400th consecutive sellout.