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Two o’clock number: The Penguins, Sidney Crosby, and the number zero

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It doesn’t happen often, so let’s enjoy it.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

In a big game before the All-Star break, the Philadelphia Flyers came out and gave the Pittsburgh Penguins literally nothing in a 3-0 win. Considering the opponent and how important points in the standings are to the Flyers at the moment, there’s an argument to be made that this was Philly’s biggest win over the other Pennsylvania squad since they clinched a playoff spot for Ed Snider in the second-to-last game of the 2015-16 season. Thanks to the Pens and one of the best players in their franchise history coming up empty-handed last night today’s two o’clock number is...

0 - the number of goals Pittsburgh scored and the number of points Sidney Crosby registered in last night’s defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Let’s start with the shutout. Last night’s 3-0 decision marked the 22nd time the Flyers have shut out the Penguins in a regular season meeting. Given how the two teams have performed in recent history it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the most recent Flyers’ shutout of Pittsburgh happened over two seasons ago in a 4-0 victory on March 15th, 2017. Despite it being a decisive win over the hated Pens, the tilt came at a point in the season where it was clear Pittsburgh had a chance to defend the Stanley Cup in the 2017 postseason and that the Flyers were going to miss it.

Exactly three years prior to this blanking was another 4-0 win for the Orange and Black over Crosby and Company, but it came in a much more important contest. Fighting to make the 2014 postseason and enduring one of the tougher stretches of their 2013-14 campaign, Philly shut down the Pens on March 15th, 2014 thanks to a two-goal game from Matt Read as well as tallies from Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier.

It wasn’t all about the Pens’ lack of finding the back of the net last night. Brian Elliott wasn’t asked to make many highlight-reel saves, but he snuffed out a few key chances to earn a 19-save shutout. His 39th regular season clean sheet is his third with the Flyers, as he has recorded one shutout in each of his three years with the club. Elliott’s most recent blanking came in a 4-0 victory for Philly over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on November 10th, 2018 while his first shutout with the Flyers came in the 2017-18 regular season finale against the New York Rangers where he prevented all 17 of the Blueshirts’ attempts from crossing the goal line.

Now let’s transition to another big fat zero from last night, which was Crosby’s point total. We need to sit back and enjoy this rare feat, as it isn’t often the Flyers make their own fans question whether or not Crosby is playing due to their defensive performance. Last night’s game was Crosby’s 69th (#NICE) game against the Orange and Black in the regular season, and it marks just the 18th time he failed to register a single point. Although they are few and far between, the last time Crosby failed to help Pittsburgh to a point on the scoreboard against Philadelphia was only two meetings ago. In the teams’ final meeting of 2018-19, the first overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft not only failed to record a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to Philly, but he was also walked by Sean Couturier on the overtime goal.

Prior to that meeting, however, Crosby had been killing the Flyers. From the start of the 2017-18 season until this OT loss Crosby had endured a seven-game point streak against the Orange and Black where he totaled five goals and ten helpers for 15 points. Over that time he accrued five multi-point appearances against the Flyers, three of which were three-point games.

Sidney Crosby’s 7-game point streak against Philly

Date Outcome Goals Assists Points Shots Time On Ice
Date Outcome Goals Assists Points Shots Time On Ice
February 23, 2019 Flyers' 4-3 OT win 1 1 2 2 20:19
February 11, 2019 Pens' 4-1 win 1 2 3 3 20:53
December 1, 2018 Flyers' 4-2 win 1 0 1 3 20:05
March 25, 2018 Pens' 5-4 OT win 1 1 2 4 20:03
March 7, 2018 Pens' 5-2 win 0 3 3 3 20:20
January 2, 2018 Pens' 5-1 win 0 1 1 2 20:56
November 27, 2017 Pens' 5-4 OT win 1 2 3 5 25.38

Speaking of Couturier against Crobsy, the underrated top-line center played a big role in shutting down Sid The Kid. The Penguin skated 15:30 at 5-on-5 last night and primarily faced the Flyers’ line of Joel Farabee-Couturier-Jakub Voracek paired with Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen. He saw 11:51 of 5-on-5 time against Couturier and held his own in terms of trading shot attempts (the players had a head-to-head Corsi-for percentage of 50 with each team recording nine shot attempts while the two were on the ice together), but lost the quality battle by a significant margin with a 29.93 expected goals-for percentage in his time against Couturier. On top of that, last night marked the first time Crosby failed to register a single 5-on-5 shot attempt (shot on goal, missed shot, or shot that was blocked) in a game since a 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks December 17th, 2018 snapping a streak of 70 regular-season games with at least one 5-on-5 shot attempt. Couturier has routinely been shutting down opponents’ top players over the last few seasons and last night was just another example of how he should win one if not more Selke Trophies in his career.

*Stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Hockey-Reference