Atlantic's best teams meet in Philadelphia
Thursday, 03.24.2011 / 7:00 PMPENGUINS (42-23-8) at FLYERS (44-19-9)
TV -- NHLN-US (HD), FS-P (HD), CSN-PH (HD)
Last 10 --
Pittsburgh 6-2-2; Philadelphia 4-3-3
Season series --
This will be the fifth meeting between the top two teams in the Atlantic Division. The Penguins won 5-1 on Oct. 16 in Philadelphia, but the Flyers have won the last two, including a 3-2 decision Dec. 14 in Philadelphia that snapped the Penguins 12-game winning streak. The teams will meet again in five days at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
Big story --
The Pennsylvania rivals are neck-and-neck in the Atlantic Division race; the Penguins are five points behind the first-place, Eastern Conference-leading Flyers. Pittsburgh has managed to stay in the race despite missing its superstar centers Sidney Crosby
and Evgeni Malkin
Despite the absence of Crosby, Malkin, Brooks Orpik
and Mark Letestu
, the Penguins managed a 5-4 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. It was the Penguins' first victory in Detroit since winning Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final on June 12, 2009.
The Penguins blew a 4-0 lead Monday, but got the win on James Neal
's shootout goal. Pens goalie Brent Johnson
made 37 saves in regulation and overtime, and then stopped Todd Bertuzzi, Mike Modano and Dan Cleary in the shootout for his second straight win. Right wing Arron Asham
returned to the lineup after missing the previous 21 games with a concussion.
Despite dropping a 5-4 shootout decision to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was pleased with his team's effort, as the Flyers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead. Kris Versteeg, Claude Giroux
, Andreas Nodl
and Danny Briere
connected for Philadelphia, which is 3-0-3 in its last six games. Rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky
was replaced by Brian Boucher 1:22 into the second period after yielding three goals on nine shots. Boucher allowed his team to get back in the game by stopping 13 of 14 shots the rest of the way, but he allowed shootout goals to Matt Hendricks, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin.
"From a team standpoint it was a good point, but from my standpoint I'm disappointed," Boucher said. "I didn't make any saves in the shootout, and I feel like I could have done more."
Who's hot --
Flyers center Danny Briere
has 4 goals and 9 points in his last seven games. … Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz
has 4 goals, 8 points and a plus-6 rating in his last four games.
Injury report --
Forward Jody Shelley
(fractured orbital bone) and defensemen Chris Pronger
(broken right hand) and Oskars Bartulis
(shoulder surgery) are out for Philadelphia. … The Penguins will be without Crosby (concussion), Malkin (right knee), Eric Tangradi
(concussion) and Orpik (broken finger). Letestu (upper body) is day-to-day.
Stat pack --
The Flyers' last three games have gone to shootouts and they've played beyond regulation four times in the last five games. They won just one of the three shootouts -- Saturday against Dallas to clinch a playoff spot -- and they're just 3-5 in shootouts this season. The Penguins are 6-3 in shootouts.
Puck drop --
Crosby skated Monday in Pittsburgh. He's still is not traveling with the team and hasn't taken part in a full team workout, but he continues to report good health. The Penguins' captain has gone approximately two weeks without any concussion-related symptoms, but there still is no timetable on his return. … Pronger also skated Monday for the first time since having a screw inserted in his fractured right hand March 14. Pronger remains hopeful of returning to the lineup before the end of the regular season. He did stickhandling and shooting drills for the first time Tuesday.