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Preview: Penguins at Flyers

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang to miss fifth straight game; Philadelphia looks for quicker start

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PENGUINS (5-2-1) at FLYERS (3-4-1)

7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CSN-PH, ROOT, NHL.TV

 

Penguins team scope

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will miss his fifth consecutive game because of an upper-body injury. "He will not be in the lineup tonight but he's certainly making strides," coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's getting closer. We're hopeful we'll get him back soon." Letang missed practice Friday because of a doctor's appointment and met the team in Philadelphia. The Penguins are 3-1-0 in Letang's absence, and their power play hasn't missed a beat, going 4-for-14 in the past four games, compared to 4-for-18 in four games with him. Sullivan gave some of the credit to defenseman Justin Schultz, who has stepped into Letang's spot on the first unit. "What I really like about him is he's not afraid to shoot the puck," Sullivan said. "When we put guys on our first power-play, there's always a tendency to want to get the puck to [Sidney] Crosby or [Evgeni] Malkin or [Phil] Kessel when sometimes the right play is to put the puck on the net. Justin, when he gets back there and he sees a lane to the net, it's going to the net." Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will make his ninth straight start. Fleury started the first nine games last season, but it was in a span of 21 days, and included one overtime game. This season, the Penguins' first nine games will come in a span of 17 days, and he has played past regulation twice already. But Sullivan said he isn't worried about wearing out his goaltender. "It's early in the season," he said. "He's excited to play. He missed a fair amount to time last year and he's playing extremely well for us."

 

Flyers team scope

The Philadelphia Flyers have allowed the first goal in seven straight games and have one first-period goal this season. "We've been talking about it for the whole season," forward Brayden Schenn said. "Feels like it's a repetitive answer, but it all starts with full team preparation. I don't know why we think we have to get down one or two goals and then turn on the switch to get back into it." Though the Flyers have shown the resiliency to come back in a number of those games, continuously having to climb out of those holes can become exhausting. "Look at [Arizona] last game, get down 2-0, have to spend all the energy coming back [5-4 loss]," forward Jakub Voracek said. "Buffalo we pulled that off [trailed 3-0, won 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday], Carolina we pulled that off [trailed 2-0, won 6-3 on Oct. 22]. Takes a lot of energy out of you. It's a big difference if you score that first goal, you're up 1-0 or 2-0, you can play better, instead of chasing, chasing chasing." Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said there's no magic remedy for the slow starts. "Just go do it," he said. "That's it. Simple as that. Go do it."

 

Penguins projected lineup

Scott Wilson -- Sidney Crosby -- Patric Hornqvist

Chris Kunitz -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Carl Hagelin -- Nick Bonino -- Bryan Rust

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Matt Cullen -- Eric Fehr

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Brian Dumoulin -- Ian Cole

David Warsofsky -- Justin Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury

Matt Murray

Scratched: Tom Sestito, Mike Condon

Injured: Kris Letang (upper body), Conor Sheary (eye), Derrick Pouliot (undisclosed)

 

Flyers projected lineup

Brayden Schenn -- Claude Giroux -- Wayne Simmonds

Travis Konecny -- Sean Couturier -- Jakub Voracek

Matt Read -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Roman Lyubimov

Chris VandeVelde -- Boyd Gordon -- Dale Weise

Nick Schultz -- Shayne Gostisbehere  

Ivan Provorov -- Mark Streit

Brandon Manning -- Radko Gudas

Steve Mason

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Nick Cousins, Andrew MacDonald

Injured: Michael Del Zotto (lower body), Scott Laughton (lower body), Michael Raffl (upper body)

 

Status report

The Penguins did not have a morning skate Saturday. ... The Flyers had an optional morning skate. Schenn skated on the top line Friday with Giroux and Simmonds and said he's feeling up to speed after missing the first three games of the regular season because of a suspension. "Not easy coming back after missing three games, catching up to game speed and timing," he said. "I felt like I've gotten better since the first two or three games of my season. Still continuing to get better and clean up the little things." Schultz, a healthy scratch the past two games, will replace MacDonald. Gordon, who was scratched Thursday, will replace Cousins. Mason will start in goal. 

 

Who's hot

Crosby has two goals and an assist in two games this season. … Giroux has nine assists during his seven-game point streak. 

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