SIDNEY CROSBY was booed before he even touched the puck yesterday afternoon.
His absence on the scoresheet, though, coupled with the final score, gave Flyers fans plenty of reason to cheer.
Yesterday marked just the 10th time in 48 games - including the regular season and playoffs - that the Flyers held Crosby without a point. Crosby was a minus-1 with seven attempts at the net and no hits in 17:37 of ice time in his third game back since suffering a concussion/neck injury on Dec. 5.
Crosby entered the game with 26 goals and 36 assists for 62 points in 36 career regular-season games against the Flyers. It was his first game in Philadelphia since Dec. 14, 2010, when the Penguins also had a lengthy (12-game) winning streak snapped.
"I had a couple of good chances in overtime," Crosby said. "We just need to execute, hopefully those go in. We did some good things, but probably left it to the back end a little bit there in the third [period]. It's just a matter of executing. But they are a good team and they battled back."
Yesterday was just the 13th time over the last two seasons that Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang all played in the same game for the Penguins. That trio could spell trouble for the Flyers in the playoffs, as the two teams remain each other's most likely first-round opponent in a 4 vs. 5 matchup.
The Flyers have kept Crosby scoreless in only two of 11 career playoff games, a far worse result than eight times in 37 regular-season games. A Flyers-Penguins first-round series would be like a seven-game, steel-cage death match.
"If we played them in the first round or in the conference finals, it doesn't matter," Claude Giroux said. "You've got to play the best team to win the Cup. If it's the first round, I think we'll be ready for the test. We're not going to back down from them."
Flyers forward Max Talbot did not get a crack at his former team, sitting out with a vague "upper-body injury" suffered in Saturday's shootout loss in Boston.
Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell and Matt Carle are the only three Flyers to skate in all 72 games.
Defenseman Andreas Lilja was sidelined with a rare throat injury. Lilja was hit with a deflected puck in the first period on Saturday and immediately left the ice. Since the point shot was deflected, Lilja didn't have a chance to protect himself.
Rookie Brandon Manning was recalled from Adirondack to replace Lilja and Jody Shelley skated in Talbot's spot.
Defensemen Pavel Kubina (upper-body) and Andrej Meszaros (lower-body) did not play and remain "day-to-day," according to the team. Both players could return to the lineup this week.
Roxborough native Eric Tangradi, who played at Archbishop Carroll before moving on to the OHL in 2006, was back in the Penguins lineup. It was Tangradi's 20th game of the season and his second career game in Philly.
The Los Angeles Kings didn't wait long to scoop up another player with a Philadelphia connection. Just 3 days after his college career ended at Yale, Yardley native Brian O'Neill signed a 1-year, entry-level deal with the Kings. His contract is worth $642,500 at the NHL level and $70,000 in the AHL next season.
O'Neill, a Germantown Academy graduate, scored his first professional goal in his first game with the AHL's Manchester Monarchs this weekend. Last week, he was named All-ECAC for the second straight season after leading the Elis in points (46) for the third straight year. All told, O'Neill pushed Yale to 89 wins over his 4 years, and Yale coach Keith Allain said he could "certainly make the argument" that O'Neill is the top player in the program's rich, 119-year history.
Kimmo Timonen scored a power-play goal on his 37th birthday. "My legs feel 37, but my mind feels 21," Timonen said . . . Zac Rinaldo received five stitches on his lower lip after being accidentally whacked by Scott Hartnell's flying stick. Rinaldo said he wouldn't "hold any grudges, it was just a stick swinging in the air."