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At the Rink: Flyers at Penguins

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will use virtually the same lineup for the fifth consecutive game to start the season when they face the Philadelphia Flyers at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA SPORTS2).

The Penguins have made minor tweaks to their lineup through the early portion of the season, including moving defenseman Olli Maatta from a pairing with Paul Martin to playing alongside Kris Letang, and swapping their third- and fourth-line centers, with Nick Spaling replacing Marcel Goc on the third.

1-3-2 (7th, Metropolitan) 2013-14 Record 3-1-0 (4th, Metropolitan)
1822-1257-457-106 All-Time Record 1597-1567-383-93
146-85-30-8 Head-to-Head Regular-Season Record 93-140-30-6
4-0-0 Streak vs. Opponent 0-3-1
4-0-1 @ Pittsburgh Home/Road Streak vs. Opponent 0-2-1 vs. Flyers
2 Stanley Cup Championships 3
9 Hockey Hall of Fame Members 10
Bob Clarke Most Famous Alumnus Mario Lemieux
4 Hart Trophy Winners 7
37 Postseason Appearances 29
Mark Recchi (1992-95; 1999-2004) Best Player in Common Mark Recchi (1989-92; 2005-07)

"Both players [Spaling and Goc], the first thing that both provide is they're key penalty killers for us," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "I just thought on those lines, just to flip them around and really, I'm not big on third, fourth, getting into those types of things. If you look at the minutes that both have played, they're probably within a minute or 30 seconds of each other by the end of the night.

"So I just see both of those lines, just trying to get the right combinations."

Pittsburgh will have the same lineup Wednesday it played during its 3-1 win against the New York Islanders on Saturday. Johnston said he could make some tweaks prior to when the Penguins play the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday.

The morning skate offered one change, with defenseman Robert Bortuzzo rotating with Simon Despres on a pairing with Rob Scuderi. Bortuzzo has not played this season because of a lower-body injury.

Bortuzzo will not play Wednesday or Thursday, Johnston said. He said he expects Bortuzzo to be close to playing when the Penguins play at the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

The Flyers enter Wednesday after losing 4-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Tuesday. Philadelphia, which did not skate Wednesday, has lost five of its first six games coming into a game against the League's top-ranked offense (4.0 goals per game) and power play (47.1 percent). The Flyers had a similarly poor start last season, losing six of its first seven games, but went on to finish third in the Metropolitan Division and make the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 94 points.

"[The Flyers will be] pretty motivated, I think," Penguins forward Sidney Crosby said. "Regardless of whether they've won five in a row or lost [Tuesday], I think these games bring out the best in both teams and I would expect their best [Wednesday]."

Philadelphia played goalie Steve Mason on Tuesday, so it is likely Ray Emery will be in the Flyers net against Pittsburgh. Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn did not play against Chicago after being listed as a game-time decision. He could return Wednesday from a lower-body injury he sustained during Philadelphia's 2-1 season-opening loss to the Boston Bruins on Oct. 8.

Johnston, who is four games into his tenure as Penguins coach, said he has looked forward to entering this rivalry.

"I know the intensity, the emotion around the game," Johnston said. "With an 82-game schedule some games blend into each other. But this one really stands out."

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Wayne Simmonds

R.J. Umberger - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Chris VandeVelde - Jason Akeson

Nicklas Grossman - Andrew MacDonald

Nick Schultz - Mark Streit

Michael Del Zotto - Luke Schenn

Ray Emery

Steve Mason

Scratched: Blair Jones

Injured: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Ryan White (chest), Braydon Coburn (lower body), Vincent Lecavalier (lower body)


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Evgeni Malkin - Brandon Sutter - Pascal Dupuis

Blake Comeau - Nick Spaling - Steve Downie

Craig Adams - Marcel Goc - Zach Sill

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang

Christian Ehrhoff - Paul Martin

Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres

Marc-Andre Fleury

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Andrew Ebbett, Scott Harrington

Injured: Beau Bennett (lower body), Robert Bortuzzo (lower body)

Status report: Bennett, who skated before Pittsburgh's morning skate Wednesday, is expected to miss at least another week of practice. Johnston said he could return to partial practice in 7-10 days … Though Coburn could return Wednesday, Philadelphia still will be without Lecavalier for another 2-3 weeks.

Who's hot: Hornqvist has scored at least one point in each of his first four games with the Penguins. His eight points has him two behind Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin and New York Islanders forward John Tavares for the League lead, and his four goals are tied with Crosby for the team lead. … Simmonds is tied for the team lead with seven points through six games and leads Philadelphia with five goals.

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