The Flyers had survived shorthanded situations in this young season, but on Saturday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and especially Sidney Crosby, showed them that's not a safe route.

Crosby broke open a close game with a pair of power-play goals 1 minute, 24 seconds apart, and the Penguins pulled away to a 5-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.

The major call of the game came in the closing seconds of the second period when, with the Penguins up by 2-1, Jeff Carter was assessed a double minor for high-sticking after he struck Pittsburgh defenseman Alex Goligoski.

Early in the third period, the Flyers' Claude Giroux put his team two men down when he was called for tripping. Crosby scored 33 seconds later, at 3:13, on the five-on-three, and scored again three seconds before Carter had completed his four minutes of penalty time.

"I didn't mean to come around and get [Goligoski] in the face," Carter said. "He was battling, and I was obviously careless with my stick. That was kind of the turning point of the game. We've got to be careful with our penalties. They really shot us in the foot tonight.

"It's a 2-1 game there, and we started taking some penalties, and the next thing you know, it's 4-1."

The Flyers spent much of the first seven minutes of the third period killing off penalties, and although the Penguins didn't score off the final one in that stretch - a slashing call against Mike Richards - the penalty killers and defensemen were fairly well spent.

"We're taking penalties," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "We're going in the box. Whether they're questionable, marginal, or whether they're deserved, there's an infraction that's there. It ended up costing us tonight."

The Flyers have been shorthanded 31 times this season, tops in the NHL. They picked up 25 minutes in penalties against the Penguins.

And they found out Saturday night that you can't give the Penguins a manpower advantage, especially with Crosby running the show. The center had an assist to go with his two goals, and now has 59 points (26 goals, 33 assists) in 34 career games against the Flyers.

"He's the best player in the game," Carter said. "I thought as a whole we did a pretty good job the first two periods, and then we started taking penalties. And if you give him open ice, he's going to make plays."

The Flyers didn't do much offensively in even-strength situations. In fact, they scored their only goal, by Danny Briere, on the power play - only their second this season with the man advantage.

Camped at the left post, Briere took the loose puck off the boards and lifted it over Pittsburgh goalie Brent Johnson at 6:43 of the first period, giving the Flyers their only lead.

The Penguins knotted the score after Crosby gained control of the puck over Andres Nodl, then slipped a pass to Chris Kunitz. He walked in on rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and poked the puck between his pads at 11:31.

The Penguins broke the tie at 19:15 of the second period on a goal by Mark Letestu. After Bobrovsky saved an initial shot by Kris Letang, James Van Riemsdyk tried to clear the puck but hit it off teammate Matt Carle. Letestu got it and whipped it through the goalie's pads.

Just 34 seconds later, Carter got his high-sticking double minor, and Crosby went to work.

The Penguins scored their fifth goal shorthanded. Laviolette pulled Bobrovsky on a Flyers power play, but Matt Cooke fired into the empty net at 16:36 to wrap up the scoring.

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.