Pittsburgh Penguins (44-21-5, 93 pts) @ Philadelphia Flyers (41-22-8, 90 pts)
The Philadelphia Flyers ended Pittsburgh’s 12 winning streak last December and they will look to put a halt to the Penguins 11 game winning streak today in a pivotal division matchup this afternoon in Philadelphia.
In a game featuring the two highest scoring teams in the NHL, a win by Pittsburgh will move them into a tie with the New York Rangers for first place and five points ahead of the Flyers for the No. 4 seed with a game in hand. A Flyers win will pull them just one point behind the Penguins and three points behind the Rangers for first place.
While the Penguins are the hottest team in the NHL and emerging as the best team in the East, Philadelphia coming off a shootout loss to Boston yesterday, are starting to peak and have found their game thanks to the play of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov who will get the start, is 9-2-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average and four shutouts in his last 12 games. In six career meetings with Pittsburgh, Bryzgalov is 3-1-1 with a 2.12 GAA and one shutout.
The Flyers are 7-1-1 in the month of March but unlike the Penguins, Philadelphia won’t be at full strength today as Max Tablot who’s 6th on the team with 18 goals won’t be in the lineup today, in addition to defenseman Andreas Lilja.
Pittsburgh is on a 23-4-1 roll and are getting scoring from all areas as concerns about secondary scoring have gone away in the past four to six weeks.
The Cooke – Crosby – Kennedy unit has combined for 4 goals in 9 assists in the last two games, while the Sullivan – Staal – Dupuis line has combined for 13 goals, 18 assists in their last 10 games.
Pascal Dupuis netted his 20th goal of the season Saturday afternoon and has 7 goals in his last 10 games.
“We’re a team and you’re happy to see your teammates do well,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “We’ve played good hockey. When I wasn’t in for the previous nine games, I was just as happy to see guys do well. There is a good feeling when you are rewarded for your efforts and guys have stuck to that.”
Crosby who will be appearing in his third game in less than four days, has 5 points and a plus-5 rating since returning to the lineup. Overall, he has 17 points in 10 games this season. Including playoffs, Crosby has 77 points in 47 games vs Flyers.
— Marc Andre Fleury (39-14-3, 2.25 GAA, .917 sv%), as expected, will get the start in goal. Fleury is eyeing his 40th win of the season.
— Winger Arron Asham is expected back in the lineup today.
No changes are expected on the blueline but we could see two changes up front with Asham coming back and Joe Vitale banged up a bit.