With their road trip shaping up to be a disaster, the Philadelphia Flyers turned in perhaps their most complete effort of the season.
Finishing the six-game trek with a win in Pittsburgh may prove they're serious about a turnaround.
The Flyers look to avenge a season-opening loss to the Penguins and cool off Sidney Crosby when the Pennsylvania rivals meet Wednesday night.
Philadelphia (7-9-1) lost three of four to begin its longest string of road games this season, leading captain Claude Giroux to meet with his teammates and demand changes after Saturday's 4-1 defeat to Montreal.
Giroux showed what he meant Monday against the New York Islanders, scoring 26 seconds into the game to spark a 7-0 rout. He added another goal and an assist, while Danny Briere and Matt Read also had three points apiece.
Jakub Voracek had a career-high four points, all assists.
"We played with attitude. High intensity, and played as a team," said Giroux, who had one goal in his previous 14 games. "That's how we have to play - a full 60 minutes."
Coach Peter Laviolette was quickly thinking about the Flyers' next opponent.
"You'd like to bottle it up and carry it right into Pitt," he said.
The Penguins won 3-1 at Philadelphia to begin the season Jan. 19, gaining a small bit of payback after losing last year's wild first-round playoff series to the Flyers in six games.
That helped launch Pittsburgh (11-5-0) to a successful first month, putting the club in a tie with New Jersey for the Atlantic Division lead. The Penguins scored at least one power-play goal for an eighth straight game Sunday and won their third in a row, 4-3 at Buffalo.
Crosby has been the catalyst, posting seven points in the last three contests - including an assist on Paul Martin's late game-winner against the Sabres. His 24 points rank second in the NHL to Buffalo's Thomas Vanek.
"It's not ordinary," coach Dan Bylsma said. "You realize you're watching somebody at a different level. So to say you ever take it for granted it's absolutely not at all."
The superstar center will be looking to end a brief dry spell against the Flyers. Although he has 89 points in 57 career games - including postseason - in the series, he has none and a minus-4 rating in the last three meetings, coming up empty in the final two playoff games.
Marc-Andre Fleury, 6-1-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average in his last seven starts overall, had a brutal time versus Philadelphia in the playoffs, but he stopped 26 of 27 shots last month to erase some of the frustration.
"Not all of it, but yes, this feels a lot better," Fleury said after that game.
Counterpart Ilya Bryzgalov turned away all 19 shots he faced Monday for his first shutout of the season, but Fleury is likely more concerned about Giroux.
The young center scored Philadelphia's lone goal in the season opener, giving him at least one point for the 12th time in his last 13 meetings with the Penguins. He has totaled 24 points in that stretch.
Giroux has eight goals and seven assists in his last eight games in Pittsburgh, where the Flyers have won seven of nine.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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