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Flyers seeking home-and-home sweep over sinking Penguins

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

After a thrilling 4-3 shootout victory on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers are right back in action against their cross-state rivals on Monday night.

The Flyers finally recorded their first comeback victory of the 2023-24 season and their first victory after allowing the first goal of the game.

“We win the game because we’ve got balls,” said head coach John Tortorella after Saturday’s game. “We do. We do stupid stuff, we don’t make some plays sometimes, lose sight of certain momentums in the games. A number of things we have to work on and try to get consistent at, but one thing we do have is balls.”

The Flyers certainly did show their mettle on multiple occasions on Saturday, coming back from two separate 1-goal deficits before taking the lead, and then holding on in overtime before claiming the victory in a shootout.

The biggest positive was the penalty kill coming up large again. Philadelphia killed all 5 of Pittsburgh’s power plays, including a late 4-on-3 to close out overtime. Travis Sanheim (7) and Cam York (5) blocked a combined 12 shots in the game, more than the Penguins’ entire roster, and the Flyers registered 26 as a team over Pittsburgh’s 11. The effort propelled the Flyers’ penalty kill to 7th-best in the league (84.8%).

Philadelphia also nabbed another power play goal, boosting them to 28th-best. It’s still not an exquisite rank at all by any means, but the group has shown slow but sure improvement over the last few games. They have scored power play goals in back-to-back games and have recorded 5 power play goals in their last 8 games. The Flyers are 6 for their last 28 on the power play (21.4%) in those 8 games and will look to keep things rolling with a unit that is clicking at just 12.4% on the season.

Pittsburgh will need to play tighter and with more poise if they want to prevent themselves from being swept during this home-and-home set. They failed to convert on all 5 of their power play opportunities on Saturday – and even allowed a shorthanded goal – and didn’t show much control of the game until the third period. The Flyers outshot the Penguins 22-11 after forty minutes and Pittsburgh could never sustain much pressure at even strength save for a couple shifts.

The Penguins were able to tie the game late thanks to Jake Guentzel’s heroics, but they’ll need more from their top players. Sidney Crosby didn’t record a single point and Evgeni Malkin only registered a secondary assist. Kris Letang did score a goal but it was courtesy of a fluky redirection by Philadelphia’s Travis Sanheim, and Erik Karlsson recorded a singular primary assist on Guentzel’s first goal of the game. If those players sans Guentzel aren’t producing even more, Pittsburgh simply won’t win a lot of games. That’s evident by their recent slide in which they’ve lost 6 of their last 10 games and are currently sitting sixth in the Metropolitan Division in a season where they bolstered their lineup for another last-ditch effort at championship contention.

The Penguins also enter tonight with power play woes of their own. They have gone 0 for their last 26 in their last 10 games, and they switched up their units at practice to try and get some offense going, moving Karlsson to the left flank spot with Letang at the point on the top unit with Crosby, Makin, and Guentzel. For a team that is surprisingly 30th in the league with a 10.9% conversion rate with the man advantage, they’ll need this group to step up quickly to stay afloat in the Metropolitan Division.

PHI Record: 12-10-2, 26 pts, 5th in Metropolitan

PIT Record: 11-10-2, 24 pts, 6th in Metropolitan

When: 7:00pm ET

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

Broadcast Info: NBC Sports Philadelphia, 97.5 The Fanatic

Last Game PHI: 12/2/23, 4-3 SOW at Pittsburgh

Last Game PIT: 12/2/23, 4-3 SOL vs. Philadelphia

PHI Goalie: Carter Hart (6-6-1, .909 SV%, 2.68 GAA, 1 SO)

PIT Goalie: Alex Nedeljkovic (2-2-0, .937 SV%, 2.26 GAA, 1 SO)

PHI Projected Lineup

#71 Tyson Foerster – #14 Sean Couturier – #11 Travis Konecny

#86 Joel Farabee – #21 Scott Laughton – #89 Cam Atkinson

#74 Owen Tippett – #48 Morgan Frost – #10 Bobby Brink

#44 Nicolas Deslauriers – #25 Ryan Poehling – #19 Garnet Hathaway

#8 Cam York – #6 Travis Sanheim

#24 Nick Seeler – #26 Sean Walker

#18 Marc Staal – #55 Rasmus Ristolainen

#79 Carter Hart

#33 Samuel Ersson

Scratches: #5 Egor Zamula

Injuries: #27 Noah Cates

PIT Projected Lineup

#59 Jake Guentzel – #87 Sidney Crosby – #17 Bryan Rust

#19 Reilly Smith – #71 Evgeni Malkin – #10 Drew O’Connor

#63 Radim Zohorna – #20 Lars Eller – #13 Vinnie Hinostroza

#43 Jansen Harkins – #15 Joona Koppanen – #77 Jeff Carter

#27 Ryan Graves – #58 Kris Letang

#28 Marcus Pettersson – #65 Erik Karlsson

#5 Ryan Shea – #7 John Ludvig

#39 Alex Nedeljkovic

#35 Tristan Jarry

Scratches: #11 Alex Nylander, #53 Dmitri Samorukov

Injuries: #2 Chad Ruhwedel, #55 Noel Acciari, #67 Rickard Rakell, #73 Pierre-Olivier Joseph, #83 Matt Nieto

News and Notes

– The Flyers are 103-37-8-4 against the Penguins at home and 164-101-30-13 overall since both teams entered the league in 1967.

– Carter Hart is searching for his first victory over the Penguins since April 15th, 2021. Hart is 4-5-2 with an .894 SV% and 3.46 GAA in his career against Pittsburgh.

– Sean Couturier leads all active Flyers in assists (21) and points (29) against the Penguins. Travis Konecny leads the team in goals against Pittsburgh with 11.

The Flyers waived defenseman Louie Belpedio earlier on Monday. Belpedio had recorded 4 points in 12 games with Philadelphia during his recall.

– If the Flyers record at least one point from tonight’s result, they will put themselves back in playoff position. The last time Philadelphia held a playoff spot this deep into a season was 2019.

Union Forge Vodka proudly serves as the Official Vodka of Flyers Nation. This partnership celebrates the unyielding spirit of Flyers fans and offers a quality spirit that perfectly compliments the team’s essence. Whether celebrating victories or showing resilience, Union Forge Vodka embodies the winning spirit of both the Flyers and their dedicated fans. Stay connected with exciting giveaways by following @unionforge and @flyersnation across all social media platforms.

Managing Editor at Flyers Nation. Proud lifelong supporter of the Philadelphia Flyers and all things hockey related. Steve Mason's #1 fan.

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