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Wednesday Night Rivalry

5 Reasons to watch Penguins-Flyers

Pittsburgh, Philadelphia chasing first place in Metropolitan Division highlights Wednesday Night Rivalry storylines

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

Wednesday Night Rivalry: PIT@PHI

Coors Light Wednesday Night Rivalry Preview: PIT@PHI

NHL Tonight previews the Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers

  • 11:14 •

There's more than just in-state bragging rights on the line when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center for the Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, NHL.TV).

The Penguins (38-25-4), Flyers (34-21-11) and Washington Capitals are battling for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh enters the game in second place, one point behind Washington and one ahead of Philadelphia, which has a game in hand. The Penguins come to Philadelphia after back-to-back overtime wins against the New York Islanders and Calgary Flames following three straight losses. The Flyers are home after losing weekend road games to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, and are 0-2-1 in their past three games.

 

[RELATED: Gostisbehere putting it together for Flyers | Letang rounding into familiar form for Penguins]

 

The Penguins have won the first two games between the teams this season, including a 4-1 victory in Philadelphia on Jan. 2.

Here are 5 reasons to tune in:

 

Sidney Crosby

Crosby has 88 points (37 goals, 51 assists), including one goal and three assists in two games this season, in 61 games against the Flyers. By Crosby's own standards, his performance this season is almost pedestrian (70 points; 22 goals, 48 assists in 67 games). But he always seems to come up big in the big games, and this one certainly qualifies.

Video: NYI@PIT: Crosby wins game in OT with blistering shot

 

Evgeni Malkin

Good health has helped Malkin put up his biggest offensive numbers since winning his second NHL scoring title in 2011-12. He's played 63 of Pittsburgh's 67 games and leads the Penguins with 82 points (37 goals, 45 assists). Malkin has also enjoyed a lot of success against the Flyers during his NHL career (65 points; 24 goals, 41 assists in 51 games), and he's been on a roll with nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past five games. He's coming off his seventh game with three or more points since Jan. 25 (17 games).

 

Claude Giroux

The decision by Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to move his captain from center to left wing has paid off handsomely. Giroux has 78 points (23 goals, 55 assists) in 66 games, his best offensive numbers since he had 86 points (28 goals, 58 assists) in 2013-14. He's also plus-17 after finishing as a minus player in each of the past three seasons. Giroux has been a point-a-game player against the Penguins in his NHL career (43 points; 14 goals, 29 assists in 42 games) and has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his past eight games.

 

Shayne Gostisbehere

The 24-year-old defenseman's play in his own zone is finally catching up to his formidable offensive skills. Gostisbehere's 50 points (10 goals, 40 assists) in 62 games are already an NHL career high. Even better as far as the Flyers are concerned is how he's gone from being minus-21 in 2016-17 to plus-13 this season. Gostisbehere's improvement defensively has earned him more ice time; he's second on the Flyers at 21:34 per game, up from 19:36 last season. He's still an offensive factor but can now be used in more situations.

Video: BUF@PHI: Gostisbehere beats Lehner with snap shot

 

Goaltending

Neither team will have the two goaltenders who dressed in its season opener. Pittsburgh's Matt Murray is out with a concussion, leaving rookies Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith in net after Antti Niemi was waived in October. The Flyers began the season with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, but each is out with an injury. Petr Mrazek, traded to the Flyers by the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 19, is starting with rookie Alex Lyon as his backup. It's not an ideal situation for either team, but each needs someone to step up as the season enters the final month.

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