The Pittsburgh Penguins (32-22-7) will attempt to sweep the outdoor “Battle of Pennsylvania” against the Philadelphia Flyers (28-26-7), tonight at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Penguins won the first meeting in 2017 at Heinz Field in front of more than 67,000 fans, 4-2.
After a week of looking like they were turning a corner, the Penguins flatlined in a loss to the San Jose Sharks, Thursday. The Penguins are third in the Metropolitan but still only hold a point lead on Carolina. The Penguins schedule won’t be easy as they play five of the next six games against teams in the playoff hunt.
Matt Murray and his all-black pads will start in his second outdoor game. This season, Murray is 18-10-1 with a 2.97 goals-against, and a .913 save percentage. Philadelphia will counter with veteran Brian Elliott. Rookie sensation Carter Hart is out for 10 days with a lower body injury.
The Penguins could not overcome an abysmal first period in a 4-0 loss to San Jose, Thursday. San Jose used their special teams to roar to a three-goal first period. Tomas Hertl (27, 28) continued to haunt the Penguins as he finished two power-play feeds and was 60% on the faceoff dot. Evander Kane added a shorthanded goal to kill any Penguins momentum. Kane’s tally was the NHL leading 13th shorthanded goal the Penguins allowed this season. Brent Burns (12) scored a late 3rd-period goal to finish the scoring.
Casey DeSmith was a surprise start in net and stopped 29 of 33 shots in the loss. Martin Jones collected his second shutout of the year by stopping all 26 shots. Jones improved to 29-11-5. DeSmith fell to 14-11-5.
After the loss to San Jose and receiving an ejection from the game, Mike Sullivan was in a rare mood during his post-game conference.
Philadelphia lost to the Montreal Canadiens 5-1, Thursday. Montreal scored five straight goals including a Brendan Gallagher hat-trick (24, 25, 26) to bury Philadelphia early. Michael Raffl (5) scored the only goal for Philadelphia. Carey Price started for Montreal in net and saved 29 of 30 shots. Brian Elliott started for Philadelphia and lost his seventh game of the year.
Sidney Crosby dominates Philadelphia. Crosby enters tonight with 55 goals and 78 assists in 88 games against Philadelphia including the playoffs.
Philadelphia holds an all-time record on the Penguins of 175-123-30. The Penguins, however, have played better in recent history against Philadelphia and won seven of the last ten games and three of the last four playoff series between the two teams.
A tip of the cap to the countless people who have played crucial roles in the three-week long process of the construction of the Stadium Series rink and made tonight’s game possible.
This is the 27th regular-season outdoor NHL game to date and road teams are 16-8-2, but home teams are 5-1-1 in the last seven and 6-3-1 in the past 10.
Weather could provide an extra wrinkle to the festivities tonight. Here is the latest from PHN.
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Olli Maatta ( Upper-Body. IR)
Radko Gudas (Suspension, 1 game)
Michal Neuvirth (Lower-body, IR)
Carter Hart (Lower Body)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||24.1% (7-29, 11th)||72% (7-25, 28th)|
|Vancouver Canucks||22.2% (6-27, 17th)||60% (10-25, 32nd)|
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Rickard Rakell|
|Danton Heinen||Ryan Poehling||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Brock McGinn||Sam Poulin||Drew O'Connor|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|P.O Joseph||Jan Rutta|