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Much is at Stake in "The Battle of Pennsylvania"

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The Penguins will have a lot on the line Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center when they battle cross-state rival Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh is riding a 12-game winning streak and 15-game unbeaten stretch (14-0-1), while center Sidney Crosby (18-game scoring streak) and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (11-game winning streak) bring personal streaks into the game.

But most importantly, the two teams are battling for two points in the standings. Pittsburgh enters the game with an NHL-best mark of 21-8-2 for 44 points, while Philadelphia sits just one point behind (19-7-5, 43 points).

“It’s hard to think that you can add to (the rivalry),” Crosby said. “It’s always intense no matter what. But I guess if there was a way, it would be now with the way the teams are playing. The rivalry’s already there, but I would agree there’s a little more with the teams being so close. Both have a lot of pride, and it’s been a while, so both teams want to show what they’ve improved on and where they’re at.”
It’s hard to think that you can add to (the rivalry). It’s always intense no matter what. But I guess if there was a way, it would be now with the way the teams are playing. - Sidney Crosby

“I think regardless of where both teams are at, this one always has a little intensity to it and a little different flavor to it,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “I think the fact that you saw Philly in front of us for most of the season, and now us catching up and being a little ahead. I think that gets a little more interest in the storyline. But we’re going into Philly and going against the black and orange, and I’m pretty confident that their fans are not going to like us going in there. It will have some intensity to it.”

With the tightness of the standings and both teams playing great hockey (the Flyers are 7-1-3 in their last 11 games), the volatile nature of the rivalry will only be heightened.

“We are two good teams right now that are playing good hockey,” forward Arron Asham said. “It’s always tough to go into Philly and win a game. It will be my first one back there so I’m looking forward to it.”

Asham played the last two seasons in a Flyers uniform. Although he has played against his former squad, Tuesday will mark his return to Philadelphia as a Penguin.

“It’s going to be a little odd, but I’m anxious to see how the fans react,” Asham said. “I expect a lot of boos. It’s just another game. We want to keep this thing going that we have going on right now.”

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Center Mark Letestu has seen the rivalry from both Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton perspective (WBS has a similarly intense rivalry with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League).

“It’s a little more intense here,” said Letestu, who played in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win at Philadelphia Oct. 16. “When I was in Philly, the fans are just as unruly and have the same kind of distaste for us. With the name power and the way the media plays it up, it gets a little more build up here.”

Regardless of the circumstances, the Penguins and Flyers always look forward to clashing head-to-head.

“We’ve known for a little bit that this one was coming up on the schedule,” Bylsma said. “And again the fact that the two teams are playing really well will definitely adds to that. Definitely, fun is not where I would go, but it is intense. These are the games you look forward to playing and we definitely look forward to going in there tomorrow.”

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