Game 56 Preview: FLYERS vs. PENGUINS
Interim head coach Scott Gordon's Philadelphia Flyers (25-23-7) are home on Monday to take on Mike Sullivan's Pittsburgh Penguins (28-20-7). Game time at the Wells Fargo Center is 7:00 p.m. ET.
The game will be televised locally on NBCSP. The radio broadcast can be found on 97.5 FM The Fanatic with an online simulcast at FlyersRadio247.com.
This is the second of four meetings between the teams this season; the first of two in Philly this month but the lone game at Wells Fargo Center. The teams will rematch on Feb. 23 (Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field) in Philadelphia and March 17 in Pittsburgh.
On Dec. 1, the Flyers skated to a 4-2 road win
at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. A fight between Wayne Simmonds and now-former Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was a rallying point for the Flyers, and a shorthanded goal by now-former Flyers right winger Dale Weise was a crucial strike. Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux also scored for the Flyers, while Sidney Crosby (39 seconds into the first period) and Riley Sheahan tallied for Pittsburgh. Anthony Stolarz (30 saves on 32 shots) earned the win while Casey Smith (22 saves on 26 shots) took the loss in goal.
The Flyers have gone 10-7-3 in the 20 games since the leaguewide Christmas break. However, after sustaining an eight-game winless streak (0-6-2), the team has won 10 of its last 12 games including a current 10-game point streak (9-0-1). Monday's game is the finale of a five-game homestand.
On Saturday, the Flyers earned a 6-2 blowout victory
against the visiting Anaheim Ducks.
The red-hot Sean Couturier scored a goal (23rd) and added two assists (24th and 25th) on the afternoon. Fourth line forward Phil Varone chipped in a goal (3rd) and assist (2nd), while linemate Michael Raffl scored a shorthanded goal (4th) and earned the lone assist (7th) on Varone's goal. The Flyers also received a goal apiece from Oskar Lindblom (8th), Nolan Patrick (power play, 11th) and Travis Konecny (15th). Single apples were collected by Robert Hägg (10th), Scott Laughton (13th), Andrew MacDonald (7th), Jakub Voracek (34th), Konecny (18th), Travis Sanheim (14th) and James van Riemsdyk (13th).
Rookie goaltender Carter Hart stopped 30 of 32 shots. He extended his personal winning streak to eight straight games, tying an NHL record for goaltenders younger than age 21. Hart will get the start against the Penguins.
The Flyers recalled right winger Justin Bailey from the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Sunday. Neither he nor rookie defenseman Philippe Myers, who was recalled on Saturday, will dress for Monday's game.
After Monday's game, the Flyers are right back in action on Tuesday night. Playing the second half of a back-to-back and for the third time in four nights, the Flyers will be in St. Paul to take on the Minnesota Wild.
The Penguins are only 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, including a 5-4 road loss
to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night. The team is winless in its last four games.
Garrett Wilson (1st), recent acquisition Jared McAnn (10th), Bryan Rust (15th), and Tanner Pearson (9th) scored in a losing cause for the Penguins. Sidney Crosby, who passed Mario Lemieux to become the Penguins' all-time games played leader (916 GP), earned his 39th assist of the season on Pearson's goal. DeSmith stopped 31 of 35 shots.
Veteran superstar center Evgeni Malkin is questionable. Officially, he remains on the injured reserve list for the Penguins with an upper-body injury. The injury was incurred on a hit by Tampa defenseman Dan Girardi in the early minutes of the Jan. 30 game between the Penguins and Lightning.
Offensive-minded defenseman Justin Schultz (leg fracture) is also not yet able to return to the lineup. He is getting close. Zach Aston-Reese (hand injury sustained in a Jan. 8 fight with Florida's Colton Sceviour) has been practicing in a non-contact jersey.
(Subject to change)
25 James van Riemsdyk - 28 Claude Giroux - 11 Travis Konecny
23 Oskar Lindblom - 14 Sean Couturier - 93 Jakub Voracek
21 Scott Laughton - 19 Nolan Patrick -17 Wayne Simmonds
44 Phil Varone - 20 Mikhail Vorobyev - 12 Michael Raffl
9 Ivan Provorov - 6 Travis Sanheim
8 Robert Hägg - 3 Radko Gudas
47 Andrew MacDonald - 53 Shayne Gostisbehere
79 Carter Hart
[41 Anthony Stolarz]
Scratches: 27 Justin Bailey (healthy), 61 Phil Myers (healthy), 56 Mike McKenna (healthy), 30 Michal Neuvirth (IR, lower body), 37 Brian Elliott (IR, lower body), 5 Sam Morin (ACL surgery).
59 Jake Guentzel - 87 Sidney Crosby - 17 Bryan Rust
27 Nick Bjugstad - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 81 Phil Kessel
14 Tanner Pearson - 19 Jared McCann - 12 Dominik Simon
10 Garrett Wilson - 7 Matt Cullen - 71 Patric Hörnqvist
28 Marcus Pettersson - 58 Kris Letang
8 Brian Dumoulin- 73 Jack Johnson
3 Olli Määttä - 50 Juuso Riikola
30 Matt Murray
[1 Casey DeSmith]
Scratches: 53 Teddy Blueger (healthy), 4 Justin Schultz (IR, leg), 46 Zach Aston-Reese (IR, hand), 2 Chad Ruhwedel (healthy).