NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 2nd (All times eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (40-28-11) at Pittsburgh Penguins (46-26-8), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to clinch their first division title in a decade tonight, when they welcome the playoff-hopeful Philadelphia Flyers for a battle at Mellon Arena.
The Penguins haven't claimed a division crown since winning the Northeast Division in 1997-98, but can seal the Atlantic Division title with a win or if New Jersey loses to Boston tonight.
If Pittsburgh wins the division it will be ensured of no less than the second seed in the East, but the Penguins could clinch the conference's top spot with wins in each of their last two games. The Pens and Montreal, which also has two games left, are currently tied atop the Eastern Conference with 100 points each, but Pittsburgh has one more win than the Canadiens.
Meanwhile, the Flyers will try to move closer to a berth in the postseason tonight. Philadelphia has 91 points and is tied with Boston for the final two postseason spots in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining for both clubs. The Flyers and Bruins are also just one point ahead of the ninth-seeded Washington Capitals.
Philadelphia could actually clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win and if Carolina gets no points against Tampa Bay.
Philadelphia won the first four meetings of the year against Pittsburgh, but the Penguins have since won two in a row, including a 7-1 blowout in the last encounter on March 16 at the Igloo. Pittsburgh has taken 10 of 14 overall in the series and Philadelphia has dropped two straight and seven of eight in the Steel City.
The clubs will meet again on Sunday in Philadelphia to close out their regular seasons.
The Flyers have won five of their last six games and are coming off Saturday's thrilling road win over the New York Islanders. Danny Briere notched the lone goal of the shootout, sending Philadelphia to the 4-3 triumph at Nassau Coliseum.
Briere made several stick moves as he skated slowly down the ice towards Isles netminder Wade Dubielewicz. He waited until the goaltender went for the poke check at the left side of the crease before slipping a backhander into the net for the game-winner.
Briere, Joffrey Lupul and Mike Richards tallied in regulation for the Flyers, who blasted a season-high 54 shots on net.
The Flyers could receive a boost tonight, as they are expected to get forward R.J. Umberger back in the lineup after a six-game absence due to a sprained left knee suffered on March 16 against the Penguins.
Umberger has 12 goals and 37 assists in 71 games this season and the Pittsburgh native has 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 21 career contests against the Penguins.
Tonight is the final road test of the regular season for Philadelphia, which is 21-14-5 as the visitors this season. The Flyers have won two of their last three on the road after dropping their previous four away tests.
The Penguins, meanwhile, are playing their final two games of the regular season against the Flyers as they won't play again until Sunday.
Pittsburgh had a three-game winning streak halted Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Chris Drury's power-play goal 1:46 into overtime lifted the New York Rangers to the dramatic 2-1 win over the Penguins.
Sergei Gonchar got called for holding just 24 seconds into the extra frame to give New York a 4-on-3 power play. Jaromir Jagr skated the puck behind the net and threw a pass out front. The puck missed its intended target, Scott Gomez, parked in front of the net, but it slid into the high slot where Drury skated up to the puck and blasted it past Marc-Andre Fleury for the win.
Maxime Talbot scored the lone goal and Fleury finished the game with 25 saves for the Penguins.
The Penguins are 25-10-5 as the host this season and are playing their final regular-season test at home tonight. Pittsburgh has won seven straight games at the Igloo.
04/02 14:50:28 ET