It's rare when Sidney Crosby is totally overshadowed by the opposition, but that's what happened tonight at the Wachovia Center.
Joffrey Lupul and line mate R.J. Umberger scored hat tricks as the Flyers routed the Pittsburgh Penguins, 8-2, amid four fights and mayhem.
Lupul registered six points while snapping an 11-game goal drought.
"Just a weird sort of game," he said. "Everywhere I went, the puck seemed to be bouncing up in the air and falling right to me and hitting me."
The last Flyer to get six points was Eric Lindros on March 19, 1997, during a 6-3 win at Toronto.
The victory snapped the Flyers' five-game losing streak at home and put them two points ahead of Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division standings, tied for second with the Rangers with 34 points.
Lupul's line, centered by Mike Richards, had a season-high 10 points at even strength. They had not played as a line since Nov. 7 at Pittsburgh.
The last Flyers duo to get two hat tricks was Tim Kerr and Dave Poulin on Dec. 18, 1986, in a 9-4 rout of the Islanders.
"From the opening shift, the puck seemed to follow us," Umberger said. "We came out with a lot of energy. We had two unbelievable days of practice, the most intense John [Stevens] has seen our team."
The Penguins took numerous liberties with the Flyers, as broken sticks on the ice would attest. Things have gotten nasty in back-to-back encounters with Pittsburgh. The Penguins won all eight games last season, but the Flyers have won all three so far this season.
"I don't want to hear any talk about our team and how undisciplined we are," Stevens said. "It was ridiculous in the third period. They got a penalty on a play when they could have had two or three, and three broken sticks on the ice. Every time we seem to do something good, there's another side of the story to take the focus away from the good."
To which Penguins coach Michel Therrien replied, "Are we talking about the same team that had five players suspended this year? It's a lack of respect to do what [Stevens] did. You don't send your best power play on the ice at 7-2."
The Flyers scored four power-play goals.
Crosby's line with Ryan Malone and Colby Armstrong was minus-5. Richards' line was plus-12 combined. Richards' three assists tied his career-high point total at 34.
Vengeance was on the Penguins' minds early as Malone fought Jason Smith on the opening shift. That was payback for Smith's chopping Crosby on the wrist on Nov. 10.
There were several fights and plenty of chippiness the entire night. This has become a bitter rivalry.
"We definitely have a chip on our shoulder," Umberger said. "It's not just the guys who were here last year. The guys who came in know exactly what happened, and they don't want to be part of that. We know how important these home games and division games are."
If Malone wanted to ignite his team, it backfired, as Lupul scored twice in 2 minutes, 33 seconds on goalie Dany Sabourin for a 2-0 cushion.
"The first goal was just a great play set up by R.J.," Lupul said. "He went wide on the defenseman, and he told me he saw me all the way."
Pittsburgh struck back late in the period with two power-play goals in less than two minutes to tie the game, thanks primarily to the pinpoint passing of Crosby, to make it 2-2 after 20 minutes.
The Flyers took over in the middle period with two goals from Umberger. He and Lupul got their hat-trick goals in the final period, which also resulted in 22 penalties - 16 against Pittsburgh.
"We've had our share of misfortunes here in terms of undisciplined play," Stevens said. "The game got out of hand there. The discipline by them in the third period was unacceptable. They were breaking sticks over guys away from the play. There's no place in the game for that."