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Insider Only Game 45: Penguins look to make it four straight against Philadelphia

Philadelphia Flyers
20-19-3 — 43 pts.
5-4-1 Last 10
Pittsburgh Penguins
27-16-1 — 55 pts.
4-6 Last 10
Season Series
The Penguins lead the season series with division rival Flyers by taking all three matchups in 2009. This is the first meeting of the two teams in 2010, the second in Pittsburgh.

October 8, 2009. Wachovia Center
5-4 Penguins Win
Goals: Guerin, Staal, Malkin, Gologoski, Kennedy
December 15, 2009. Mellon Arena
6-1 Penguins Win
Goals: Staal (2), Crosby, Guerin, Fedotenko, Malkin
December 17, 2009. Wachovia Center
3-2 Penguins Win (SO)
Goals: Guerin, Crosby
Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers have found some mojo in their last ten contests, but still find themselves last in the Atlantic and 10th in the East. They trail Pittsburgh by 12 points. A win tonight would be their first against Pittsburgh this season.
Philadelphia has won five of seven, including a four game winning streak, since December 23, signs that coach Peter Laviolette’s system is starting to take root in Philadelphia.
It’s no secret what tonight’s game will be like. All three contests between the Flyers and Penguins have been physical, physical, physical.
Pens fans love to hate Hartnell. Hartnell showed his ability disrupt in the Winter Classic. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas leapt from the crease to hit Hartnell in the back of the head, allowing a goal in the process, because of an earlier slew foot by Hartnell. It takes only a little discipline to nullify Hartnell’s game.
Jeff Carter and Claude Jiroux scored for the Flyers in the Dec. 17th matchup, and have been two of the better scorers under the Laviolette system. Philadelphia is getting back to scoring goals as a whole under their new coach, netting at least four goals in four of their last seven contests.
Daniel Carcillo is third in the league and first on the Flyers with 111 penalty minutes. If there is a fight tonight, Carcillo’s name won’t be far behind. He scored the only goal in the Dec. 15th loss at Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Penguins
The streak is over. Pittsburgh handled the lowly Atlanta Thrashers Tuesday night in a 5-2 victory that saw Fedotenko and Letang get off the schnide, Staal land two more goals and call-up Luca Caputi score in his first game of the season.

The Penguins streak was marked by teams outshooting, outskating and outworking the Penguins. So far, Pittsburgh has won all three games against Philadelphia by doing just those things: skating faster, working harder, shooting more. The recipe stays the same for tonight’s matchup.
Jordan Staal has been the best Penguins player over the last ten games. He landed two more goals Tuesday night, both times by getting to the front of the net – once on a pass play from Kennedy, the other off a set rebound play that called for a big shot off the rush and a drive to the net.
The Pens took 37 shots Tuesday. Much of their losing streak was marked by giveaways, usually made during long fits of passing and trying to find the perfect shot. All five goals against Atlanta were made by putting the puck on net and getting to the rebound.
The power play needs to come through tonight as well. Though the power play is still dead last at 14.7 percent, against Philadelphia the Pens power play has gone 4 of 14, good for a 28.6 conversion rate. Conversely, the Flyers power play is now ranked third in the league, behind only Washington and Montreal. Special teams will be a vital battle tonight.
One thing to watch is whether the call-up of winger Caputi continues to energize Malkin. Malkin flew around the ice and was a threat to score each time he touched the puck Tuesday, and led the drive that ended in Caputi’s goal. Pittsburgh needs that line to continue to mesh and create energy.
Everyone has got off the losing streak but Fleury, who has lost his last four decisions with a GAA greater than 4. Fleury is 3-0 against Philadelphia this year.

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