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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, March 22nd (All times eastern)

Philadelphia Flyers (38-22-10) at Pittsburgh Penguins (29-26-8), 12:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A key Eastern Conference playoff battle is on tap today in the Steel City, as the scorching Pittsburgh Penguins welcome the rival Philadelphia Flyers for an Atlantic Division battle at Mellon Arena.

The Penguins and Flyers come into today's game tied for fourth in the East with 86 points each. The clubs are also 11 points behind New Jersey for first place in the Atlantic.

Philadelphia has been in the fourth spot for much of the season, while Pittsburgh has vaulted up the conference standings in recent weeks after sitting just outside the playoff picture for a large part of the 2008-09 campaign.

Pittsburgh has won three in a row and has recorded at least a point in 12 straight games, going 10-0-2 over that stretch. The Penguins were last handed a regulation loss on February 22 at Washington.

The Penguins have taken four of five from Philadelphia this season and has dominated their Keystone State rivals in recent years. Pittsburgh has won seven of nine and 15 of the last 21 encounters overall and has taken five in a row and 10 of its last 11 against the Flyers at the Igloo.

Pittsburgh's latest victory came Friday evening in a home test against Los Angeles. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby both registered a goal and picked up an assist as the Pens downed the Kings, 4-1.

Bill Guerin and Tyler Kennedy also lit the lamp for Pittsburgh, while Marc- Andre Fleury made 24 saves to notch his 30th win of the season.

Malkin is leading the NHL with 104 points, while Crosby is tied for second in the league with 94 points. Crosby, the Penguins captain, has recorded a point in eight straight games, notching five goals and 10 assists over that span.

The Penguins are 3-0-1 so far on a season-high eight-game homestand and have a 21-12-3 record as the host this year. Pittsburgh hasn't suffered a regulation loss on home ice since losing to Detroit on February 8 and has recorded at least a point in eight straight at the Igloo.

The Flyers, meanwhile, avoided a three-game losing streak with Friday's victory in Buffalo. Former Sabres captain Danny Briere scored two goals late in the second period to help Philadelphia edge Buffalo, 6-4, at HSBC Arena.

Mike Richards had a goal and two assists while Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter and Mike Knuble each lit the lamp for the Flyers, who had dropped three of four coming into the contest. Martin Biron made 39 saves in the win.

The Flyers, who are 17-12-6 as the guest this year, are capping a four-game road trip this afternoon. Philly will play its next two games on home ice, as it hosts New Jersey on Monday before welcoming Florida on Thursday.

Flyers defenseman Randy Jones has missed the last two games with a hip injury, but practiced on Saturday and is a game-time decision for today's contest.

03/22 10:37:04 ET


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