After a successful two-game road trip over the weekend, ending in a hard fought 4-3 victory in Buffalo against the Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins return home for a grudge match with their in-state rival Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are coming off a 7-0 thumping of the New York Islanders on February 18.
When and where: Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh, PA); 7:30 p.m. et (NBCSN, TSN2, RDS)
Season series: Penguins lead 1-0
Last meeting: The Penguins and Flyers last seen each other on opening night, January 19. Less than five minutes into the game, Paul Martin got off what seemed to be a season long snide, scoring the first goal of the season for the Penguins. James Neal then took a pass from Evgeni Malkin and beat Ilya Bryzgalov to put the Penguins up 2-0. Claude Giroux was able to bring the Flyers within one, but the game was put out of reach by an empty-net goal from Chris Kunitz. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped twenty-six of twenty-seven shots to pick up the victory.
Players to keep an eye on:
1. Jakub Voracek: The leading scorer on the Flyers (yeah, you read that right) with fifteen points, Voracek has been a “Penguin killer” as of late. His success against the Penguins peaked in game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, when he beat Marc-Andre Fleury for the game-winning goal in overtime. The former Columbus Blue Jacket only has three goals, and hasn’t scored since January 24 against the New York Rangers.
2. Sean Couturier: The eighth overall selection in the 2011 NHL draft has been a thorn in the side of the Penguins since the playoffs last season. Unlike Voracek, Couturier has given Pittsburgh fits on defense. The twenty-year old center will be in Evgeni Malkin’s face all game, and has been able to control the Hart trophy winner in the past.
Flyers: D Andrej Meszaros (shoulder), LW Scott Hartnell (foot), LW Jody Shelley (hip), G Michael Leighton (finger), D Chris Pronger (concussion)
Projected lineups (via Empty Netters):
14 Chris Kunitz (A)-87 Sidney Crosby (C)-9 Pascal Dupuis
24 Matt Cooke-71 Evgeni Malkin (A)-18 James Neal
19 Beau Bennett-16 Brandon Sutter-48 Tyler Kennedy
10 Tanner Glass-46 Joe Vitale-27 Craig Adams
2 Matt Niskanen-58 Kris Letang
44 Brooks Orpik-7 Paul Martin
41 Robert Bortuzzo-5 Deryk Engelland
92 Tomas Vokoun
24 Matt Read-28 Claude Giroux (C)-93 Jakub Voracek
48 Danny Briere (A)-10 Brayden Schenn-17 Wayne Simmonds
25 Max Talbot-14 Sean Couturier-9 Mike Knuble
12 Harry Zolnierczyk-26 Ruslan Fedotenko-36 Zac Rinaldo
44 Kimmo Timonen (A)-22 Luke Schenn
5 Braydon Coburn-27 Bruno Gervais
8 Nicklas Grossmann-29 Erik Gustafsson
30 Ilya Bryzgalov