Sean Couturier: Unavailable for Game 4

Sean Couturier: Unavailable for Game 4

The Pittsburgh Penguins have taken a stranglehold on the team's first round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Philadelphia Flyers went into Game Four of their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins down 2-1 and looking to turn a best-of-seven series into a best-of-three.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions put the Flyers on the brink of elimination Wednesday night as they coasted to a 5-0 win before a restless sellout crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.

Pittsburgh scored early and often, with stars C Sidney Crosby and Fs Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin each scoring goals on the way to an easy victory.

The Penguins lead the first-round playoff series 3-1 as its shifts to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Friday.

With an assist on Malkin's opening goal, Crosby earned his 162nd career playoff point, tying Mario Lemiuex for most all-time in franchise history. Crosby and the Penguins followed a 7-0 Game 1 win and a 5-1 Game 3 victory with another dominant outing.

The Flyers defense was short-handed before the puck even dropped, as newly-named Selke Award nominee Sean Couturier missed the contest with an injury he sustained in practice.

Crosby added a goal of his own in the second period, his fifth of the playoffs, to break Lemieux's record.

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J.T. Miller also scored and had two assists, and Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped three breakaways in making 27 saves as the Lightning bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to tale a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.

Kris Letang's deflected wrister from the slot chased an overmatched Brian Elliott eight minutes into the second.

"We lost to a better team tonight", said goalie Michal Neuvirth, who relieved Brian Elliott midway through the second period.

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.

"Somehow, we need to get our confidence back and go from there", team captain Claude Giroux said.

Giroux has just one assist in the four games.

Not only is Hornqvist an annoying net-front presence, but he led the Penguins in power-play goals, with 15 this season, and made his mark in retrieving the puck along the boards. The Devils led until J.T. Miller and Kucherov scored about 3 1/2 minutes apart in the first period.

You come to understand that there will always be comparisons and arguments over Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury, but the guy in the pipes is getting the job done and at the right time for the third straight year.

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