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Flyers-Penguins Preview

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
To view the game notes for tonight's game, click here.

Not only has Sidney Crosby revived the Pittsburgh Penguins, he also has added some juice to their intrastate rivalry with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The two teams meet for the second time in four days, this time at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.

Crosby netted the game-winning goal in overtime Wednesday, beating backup goaltender Antero Niittymaki on a breakaway with 46.7 seconds to play to lift the Penguins to a 3-2 victory.

The celebrated 18-year-old rookie scored a pair of goals and assisted on a third, but also took a couple of slashes from Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher.

The first one chipped three of his teeth and the second left a welt on his neck. No penalties were called on Hatcher, and Crosby was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for complaining.

The war of words started Thursday, when Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock told The Philadelphia Inquirer he did not notice Crosby on the ice and implied the rookie was diving to embellish hits.

Penguins coach Ed Olczyk said Friday, "That's a lack of respect. Not only to me, but to our team. I expect more from Hitch when it comes to that stuff, saying he didn''t notice a player on the ice.

"I know players have made comments about other players, and that's an accepted part of the game ... but when coaches start talking, that's a lack of respect for the players."

Crosby, who had dental work to repair the chipped teeth, has three goals and two assists in two games against the Flyers. And he seems excited to get another chance to play them.

"It seems like there's something there," Crosby said Thursday. "I guess it makes it more exciting for the fans because there's a lot more buildup. And as players, you have to be prepared for an intense game."

The Flyers have lost a season-high three consecutive games following a 6-5 overtime defeat Friday to the Atlanta Thrashers. Philadelphia scored four goals on four shots in a 4:24 span of the second period but were done in by a game-tying goal by Patrik Stefan with seven seconds to play in regulation before losing 3:05 into overtime on a goal by Greg de Vries

Philadelphia has not lost four in a row since January 8-13, 2004.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 18): Flyers - 25 points, 1st place (tied), Atlantic Division. Penguins - 18 points, 5th place, 7 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Simon Gagne, 18 goals; Peter Forsberg, 28 assists and 34 points; Joni Pitkanen, 38 PIM. Penguins - Crosby, 9 goals, 15 assists and 24 points; Brooks Orpik, 38 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 18): Flyers - Power play: 22 percent (28 for 127), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 75 percent (93 for 124), 30th. Penguins - Power play: 17.5 percent (24 for 137), 18th. Penalty killing: 76.8 percent (106 for 138), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Robert Esche (8-3-1, 0 SO, 3.08 GAA); Niittymaki (3-1-1, 0, 3.71). Penguins - Jocelyn Thibault (1-4-2, 0, 4.44); Sebastien Caron (4-3-3, 0, 3.68).


LAST MEETING: Nov. 16; Penguins, 3-2, OT. At Philadelphia, Ryan Malone sprung Crosby with a breakout pass in the overtime, and the rookie beat Niittymaki low to the goaltender's right for the winning goal.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 2-3-1 on the road; Penguins - 2-4-3 at home.
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