Sidney Crosby, Penguins Dominate Flyers to Take 3-1 Series Lead

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Simply put, the Flyers looked deflated and dejected knowing they would be forced to play without Sean Couturier, who was a game-time decision but officially ruled out 40 minutes before the opening faceoff.

The second Penguins goal came as a huge deflation, following a fury of Flyers shots, chances and possession time in the Pittsburgh zone, an errant pass led to an odd-man rush that allowed Kessel to score after a ideal pass from Malkin.

Midway through the 1st, though, the Penguins countered that pressure and capitalized on a lucky break with a goal up the other way from Phil Kessel, for his first of the series. Pittsburgh Penguins' Matt Murray makes save on Flyers Wayne Simmonds in the third period of game 4 of the first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers, Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

The Flyers, outside of Game 2 last Friday, have been defined by their defense the rest of the series, and it hasn't been pretty.

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Nikita Kucherov was a force in this one, scoring the twice and adding an assist while laying a massive (and controversial) hit on Devils' defenseman Sami Vatanen, which knocked the latter out of the game.

Crosby's on-point pass on the power play led to Evgeni Malkin's third goal of the playoff just 4:33 into the game. The Penguins chased Brian Elliott early in the period after the maligned goalie allowed his 14th goal of the series. In getting pulled during the second periods of Games 1 and 4, Elliott has given up a total of eight goals on 36 shots ...

Crosby's goal gave him 173 points for his postseason career, passing Mario Lemieux for the most in franchise history. Neuvirth was looking over his right shoulder for the Crosby shot that slipped in by his left skate.

And as the Flyers walked off the ice for what will likely be the last time at home this season, they did so with their heads collectively down and the sound of boos still raining down from the few fans still remaining.

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The only Penguins on the postseason roster who haven't scored goals are forward Zach Aston-Reese and defensemen Olli Maatta and Chad Ruhwedel.

Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol dismissed it as nothing unusual, but it shows that the Penguins' dominance over the Flyers this season hasn't been limited to their stars. Neuvirth stopped 11 of 13 shots in relief.

"They came out hard", Andrew MacDonald said. "Right now we have to forget about this game and try to refocus ... and try to get a game in Pittsburgh and bring it back here".

The Flyers displayed much less energy than their cross-state opponents, lost most puck battles, and were missing the urgency needed from a team in a virtual must-win situation.

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