Two indisputable truths about Sidney Crosby: One, he makes as many jaw-dropping, highlight-reel plays as anyone in hockey. Two, he loves beating the Philadelphia Flyers.
Doing both at the same time makes for a pretty productive afternoon.
Crosby scored on an incredible individual effort in the third period, then set up Bryan Rust’s winning goal in overtime, leading the Penguins to a 5-4 victory over their intrastate rivals in a Sunday matinee at PPG Paints Arena.
For the second time in the 51-year history of the franchises, the Penguins swept a season series with the Flyers, winning all four meetings, scoring five goals in each of the games.
Crosby hit the scoresheet in all four matchups, racking up a total of nine points.
He didn’t deny there’s another level of dialed in that he can reach when he sees orange across the ice.
“You don’t have a choice in these games, or else it’s going to be a pretty long night,” Crosby said. “You’ve got to be into it.”

The highlight-reel goal came with the score tied 3-3 in the first minute of the third period.
Crosby gathered a puck near the blue line with Sean Couturier, one of the top defensive centers in the league, draped on his back. He maneuvered to the left faceoff dot with one hand on his stick, then rifled a shot past diving defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and in off the glove of Petr Mrazek.
It was a combination of strong puck protection and quick hands that is unique to Crosby.
“I’m not surprised,” Rust said. “He is who is for a reason. He elevates his game at the most important times.”
The Flyers duo victimized on the play got its revenge with the goalie pulled in the final minute. Gostisbehere took a shot from the high slot, and Couturier buried the rebound to force overtime.
The Penguins possessed the puck throughout the extra period, winning it at the 2-minute, 25-second mark when Crosby gathered a rebound in the left circle and hit Rust on the tape for a quick redirection at the far post.
“I think playing with him, the more you have your stick on the ice, probably the better off you’ll be,” Rust said.
The Penguins needed Crosby’s heroics because of a generally lackluster defensive effort.
The Flyers got goals from active defensemen Travis Sanheim and Brandon Manning in the first period. The Penguins penalty kill was scored on for the ninth time in the last eight games when Jordan Weal cashed in a rebound in the second.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray wasn’t necessarily at his sharpest in his third game back from a concussion, but he made 41 saves in front of a defense that conceded an avalanche of shots.
“We haven’t been as good at getting in shot lanes and making it hard for teams to get pucks to the net,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “It seems like every shot they’re taking is getting to the net. That’s an area where I know we have to improve and get better, and that’s a mindset. In my opinion, that’s simply a mindset. It’s a willingness to play the game hard.”
The Penguins overcame those shortcomings thanks to the high-end offensive exploits of Crosby and a few others.
Conor Sheary made a clever lob pass to set up Derick Brassard for a breakaway in the first period. In the second, Patric Hornqvist scored on a turnaround shot from the left post on the power play, and Evgeni Malkin scored on a crafty wrister from the left circle after a fake slap shot on a delayed penalty.
“We’re confident,” Murray said. “We’re trending in the right direction for sure. That’s what you need going into playoffs.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.