Pens build momentum with win over Flyers

Pittsburgh's Carl Hagelin (left) slides on the ice after scoring against Flyers' goalie Steve Mason. (AP)

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Sidney Crosby, Beau Bennett and Patric Hornqvist scored to help Pittsburgh build an early lead, and the surging Penguins equaled their longest winning streak of the season at six games with a 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.

Crosby scored his 33rd goal, Bennett his sixth and Hornqvist his 21st as Pittsburgh jumped out to a 3-0 advantage midway through the second period. Carl Hagelin added his 12th and Eric Fehr scored twice in the third period for the Penguins, who won for the 12 time in 13 games. They moved five points ahead of the third-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.

Pittsburgh, in the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season, reached 100 points for the 10th time in team history. The Penguins have scored at least five goals in five of their last seven games.

Matt Murray stopped 28 shots for Pittsburgh, starting back-to-back games for the first time in his career. He earned his first NHL shutout Saturday against the New York Islanders, filling in for Marc-Andre Fleury, who is out with a concussion. There is no timetable for Fleury’s return.

Wayne Simmonds matched a career high with his 29th goal, and Jakub Voracek scored his 11th for the Flyers, who remained one point ahead of Boston for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Steve Mason made his ninth consecutive start and second in two days for Philadelphia as Michal Neuvirth remains out with a lower-body injury. Mason, who had 33 saves, has nine wins in his last 14 starts.

Boston was unable to pass the Flyers after losing 6-4 at Chicago earlier in the day. Philadelphia couldn’t pull into a tie with the Islanders for the first wild card in the East. The Islanders have five games remaining, while the Flyers have four and the Bruins three.

The Penguins and Flyers were out of playoff position in January, but both teams have been among the league’s best during the last month.

Pittsburgh has won 16 of its last 20 games, while Philadelphia has wins in 13 of 19. The teams meet again Saturday in Philadelphia.

The Penguins are on their most recent run without Evgeni Malkin, who missed his 12th straight game with an upper-body injury. They were also without Fleury and defenseman Olli Maatta, who is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Crosby has led the resurgence with points in 18 of his last 19 games, including the last six.

He opened the scoring with a power-play goal, the Penguins’ seventh in six games.