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Rivalry renewed as Flyers welcome in Penguins

by Adam Kimelman

PENGUINS (15-8-0) at FLYERS (11-12-1)


Last 10: Pittsburgh 7-3-0; Philadelphia 5-5-0

Season series: This is the third of four games between the Pennsylvania rivals. The Penguins won 3-1 on opening night in Philadelphia, but the Flyers won 6-5 on Feb. 20 in Pittsburgh.

Big story: When the NHL's best current rivalry is renewed, just about anything is possible. Can the Penguins keep their strong recent play going? Or can the Flyers' desperation help them get back to .500?

Team Scope:

Penguins: Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma is giving rookie forward Beau Bennett a promotion -- starting Thursday, he'll be skating at right wing on a line with two-time scoring champion center Evgeni Malkin and 40-goal scorer James Neal at left wing.

"That's the line he's going to play with," Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "All three periods."

Bennett, the 20th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, has a goal and two assists in eight games, but three points in his last four. He said he's relishing the chance to play on a top-two line.

"I've skated with those guys a couple of times before," Bennett told the Tribune-Review. "The more we practice, the more chemistry we'll build. Those guys are so good with the puck, I just try to find open space and get out of their way."

Flyers: Philadelphia became the first team to hit the mid-point of their season, and the results haven't been what they hoped.

"Not good," goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said after his team's 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. "We're not good."

Two of the Rangers' goals came during poorly-timed line changes, with Luke Schenn leaving the ice early both times. On Ryan Callahan's game-tying goal, he reversed course after heading to the bench and tried to dive to disrupt the Rangers' rush, but Callahan skated around him and scored. On Rick Nash's second goal, Schenn's early departure left Kimmo Timonen alone and unable to stop the big forward from scoring the game's final goal.

"We can't do those kind of mistakes in these kind of games," Timonen said. "It bites you in the [end]. Those are, to me, mental mistakes. It's reading the play and staying on the ice when you can't change. Those things should be easy to fix. But it's more mental. If you're tired, you still can stay out there. Sometimes it's reading a play. Sometimes it's a turnover that causes a bad change. It cost us the game today and we need to learn from it."

Who's hot: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has points in five straight games and nine of his previous 10. He has six goals and 13 assists in his previous 10 games. … Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds has goals in three straight games.

Injury report: Penguins defenseman Paul Martin (lower body) is questionable. … Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossman (lower body) is questionable after leaving Tuesday's game in the first period. Out for the Flyers are forwards Matt Read (ribs), Tye McGinn (orbital) and Jody Shelley (hip), and defenseman Andrej Meszaros (shoulder).

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