The Pittsburgh Penguins haven't quite been in sync offensively early this season. The Philadelphia Flyers certainly remember the last time the Penguins were clicking up front.
The Pennsylvania rivals will meet Tuesday night at Mellon Arena for the first time since the high-scoring Penguins eliminated the Flyers in five games in the Eastern Conference finals.
Pittsburgh (1-1-1) scored 240 goals last season - the seventh-most in the NHL - led by 47 from Hart Trophy candidate Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins rode their young goal-scoring and the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury all the way to the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Detroit Red Wings, but they didn't have any problems scoring on the Flyers one round earlier.
Malkin scored three times in the five-game series, which featured 20 Pittsburgh goals from nine different players, and ended in a 6-0 Penguins rout in Game 5 at home.
So far in 2008-09, Pittsburgh hasn't looked like a team capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Gone are free agent forwards Ryan Malone and Marian Hossa, and offensive-minded defensemen Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar are out until at least January with injuries.
After beating Ottawa 4-3 in their season opener in Sweden, the Penguins went 59:58 without a goal in a 3-1 loss to the Senators on Oct. 5. In their North American debut on Saturday against New Jersey, they were outshot 49-15 in a 2-1 overtime loss.
"We have to get better, there's no choice. We need to be better," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who has just two assists so far.
Crosby had two goals and five assists in the playoffs against Philadelphia. He has 16 goals and 21 assists against the Flyers in 20 career regular-season games.
Crosby has been without one of his linemates for the Penguins' first three games. Petr Sykora, who scored 28 goals last season, hasn't played yet due to a groin injury, but may return Tuesday.
"It'll be great," Crosby told Pittsburgh's official Web site. "He's a goal scorer. He looked pretty good the last couple of days. Hopefully he's in the lineup."
The Flyers (0-2-0) fell behind 4-0 in the first period to the New York Rangers in their opener Saturday, ultimately losing 4-3 despite a late rally. They carried a 2-1 lead into the third period Monday against Montreal but quickly let it slip away.
The Canadiens scored three times in the first 14 minutes of the third, later adding an empty-netter, to hand Philadelphia a 5-3 loss.
"There's no excuse when you give up three goals in the third period and give a team a chance to get back in like that," goaltender Martin Biron said. "It should never happen."
Biron, who was pulled after just 16 minutes against the Rangers, has a 6.40 goals-against average through two games. He was 5-3-0 with a 2.58 GAA against the Penguins during the 2007-08 regular season before posting a 3.62 GAA in the playoffs.
The Flyers lost Pittsburgh native R.J. Umberger to free agency in the offseason, and though Umberger only scored 13 goals in 2007-08, six came against the Penguins. Mike Knuble and Joffrey Lupul each scored five goals against Pittsburgh, but the two only scored twice in the conference finals. Neither has scored yet this season.
Fleury is 11-2-0 with a 2.22 GAA in his last 13 regular-season games against Philadelphia.
Including the postseason, the Flyers have won just once in their last 12 trips to Pittsburgh. Philadelphia hasn't lost three consecutive games to start a season since the lockout-shortened 1995 season.