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Penguins, Flyers Set For First-Round Playoff Throwdown

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will get a fourth postseason crack at the boys from Philly.

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At the start of the Penguins’ current era of contention, they plowed through the Flyers en route to Eastern Conference titles in 2008 and ’09. Of course, Philadelphia earned a measure of wide-open revenge in a 2012 first-round shocker.

Turns out Sidney CrosbyEvgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will get a fourth postseason crack at the boys from across the state, as the results of Saturday’s NHL smörgåsbord have set up the latest playoff installment of the Commonwealth Cold War.

The Flyers’ 5-0 win over the Rangers, combined with regulation losses by the Devils (5-3 at Washington) and Blue Jackets (4-2 in Nashville), lifted Philadelphia into third place in the Metropolitan Division. Under the current playoff format, that means they’ll take on the second-place Penguins in a best-of-seven series starting either Wednesday or Thursday at PPG Paints Arena.

This will be the seventh all-time Stanley Cup playoff series between the two franchises, both members of the Expansion Six. Philadelphia won in 1989, 1997 and 2000 and has a 19-16 edge over the Penguins in postseason games.

More relevant to this matchup, the Penguins won all four meetings in the 2017-18 season series, scoring exactly five goals in each game. Their two home wins came in overtime, the most recent of which was March 25 on a Bryan Rust game-winner.

On the other side of the Metro bracket, the first-place Capitals will host the fourth-place Blue Jackets, who won the season-series tiebreaker against the Devils. New Jersey will cross over to the Atlantic bracket, where they’ll take on either the Lightning or the Bruins — whichever team ends up on top of that division.

Boston needs a home win tomorrow against the Panthers to claim the Atlantic; if not, Tampa Bay will win the division it’s led for most of the season. The second-place finisher will face the Maple Leafs in the first round.

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A lifelong hockey addict, Matt has been fortunate enough to make his career in his sport of choice, working in high school, juniors, college and the pros in various multimedia roles. Previous to joining PHN, Matt was a credentialed Penguins/NHL beat reporter for the past two seasons, including coverage of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. He signed on with PHN in Feb. 2018 as co-owner, contributing commentary and analysis in various forms.

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