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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, March 16th (All times Eastern)

Philadelphia Flyers (34-25-7) at Pittsburgh Penguins (44-18-4), 12:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers certainly played like a team that is chasing a playoff spot in Saturday's opener of a home-and-home series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Flyers hope to pick up another two points against the Metropolitan Division leaders on Sunday afternoon when the rivals wrap their set in Pittsburgh.

While the Penguins own a comfortable 16-point edge over the second-place Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers in the division, the Flyers are a point back of those two clubs as they battle for one of the three automatic playoff bids awarded in each division.

Philadelphia is currently holding the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference by two points over the Detroit Red Wings and has gone 8-2-1 in its last 11 games.

The Flyers came out fast at home versus the Penguins on Saturday, scoring twice in the first period. Scott Hartnell had a power-play marker and Matt Read scored shorthanded.

Steve Mason took care of the rest, stopping all 25 shots fired his way in a 4-0 shutout victory.

Read scored twice, Vincent Lecavalier also tallied and both Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier finished with two assists as Philadelphia snapped a two-game slide.

"Going into this hockey game, we needed the two points more than they did, and the guys really went out and earned it," Mason said. "From my standpoint, everything was just very controlled, from our breakouts to our backchecking, end zone play; everything just felt very under control the whole game."

Giroux remained red-hot with 21 points in his past 14 games. His 67 points on the season are tied for seventh in the NHL.

Of course, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby is leading the league with 57 assists and 88 points, but was held off the scoresheet on Saturday. Marc-Andre Fleury allowed all four goals on 40 shots as the Penguins' three-game win streak came to an end.

"They are good at the power play and we gave them that opportunity. They cashed in on it to get the lead and a short-handed goal against is the two goals in the first period," said Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma. "We expected them to come hard like that with their forecheck early in the game and they did. We didn't handle it."

The Penguins went into the game with a long list of injuries, one that includes defenseman Kris Letang and Paul Martin as well as forward James Neal. Things got worse when Chris Kunitz was a late scratch due to a leg injury suffered on Tuesday that also held him out of practice on Thursday.

Kunitz is tied with Crosby for the team lead with 31 goals, but could return to action today.

Pittsburgh is set to play eight of its next 10 at home, where it is 24-4-2 on the season. The Pens, though, have lost seven of nine and eight of their last 11 at home to the Flyers, who have won two of the three meetings overall this season.

Sunday's meeting could feature both backup netminders.

Philadelphia's Ray Emery, recently returned from a lower-body injury, could make his first start since Feb. 8 and is 5-4-2 with a 2.78 goals against average versus the Penguins.

Bylsma opted not to pull Fleury from the game on Saturday despite falling behind 4-0 in the second period and that may have been because he planned on starting rookie Jeff Zatkoff today.

Zatkoff is 10-3-1 with a 2.70 GAA in 14 games this season and has never faced the Flyers.

03/16 10:22:36 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
2nd
PHI 45
CHA 60
 
2nd
PHI 45
CHA 60
 
2nd
ORL 43
UTA 49
 
1st
CLE 21
BRK 25
 
1st
BOS 18
MIN 20
 
1st
DET 25
TOR 22
 
1st
MIA 18
WAS 17
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
CHI
8:00pm Tonight
SAN
POR
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
LAC
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
OKC
Final
YOUNG 92
WILB 71
 
Final
TULA 56
JST 49
 
2nd
RAD 72
SIENA 61
 
Half
BUCK 38
CASEWEST 36
 
Half
LIB 51
CPNC 35
 
Half
SCAR 28
CLEM 30
 
Half
CMICH 51
CONC 28
 
Half
MIAMI 25
EKENT 27
 
2nd
GWEBB 52
HIWASSEE 34
 
Half
ODU 31
MDES 26
 
Half
BUF 38
NIAG 28
 
Half
KSU 32
NCAT 25
 
Half
FAM 21
UNF 38
 
2nd
NORST 42
NARZ 26
 
Half
DART 33
NILL 19
 
Half
MORE 27
NKENTUCKY 49
 
Half
UCSB 34
SDCHR 18
 
Half
STJ 18
GAELS 33
 
Half
ALA 34
STILL 21
 
Half
HAMP 29
TENST 24
 
Half
TENN 26
TENT 32
 
2nd
WMARY 48
WSHMD 16
 
1st
MERC 22
COOK 9
 
1st
FLGC 16
FUR 14
 
1st
CALST 18
SDKST 20
 
8:00pm Tonight
MTST
CHAT
8:00pm Tonight
NDAK
DICKINSON
 
8:00pm Tonight
LAMON
LSUALEX
 
8:00pm Tonight
PRIN
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
LAM
MLGN
 
8:00pm Tonight
MINN
SEAT
 
8:00pm Tonight
LOYC
SUTAH
 
8:00pm Tonight
SELA
WINT
 
8:05pm Tonight
SILL
NO
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
ALAAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
TTU
ARKPB
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
COLST
9:00pm Tonight
CREI
TXPA
 
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
EWASH
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
IDST
 
11:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ARZ
11:59pm Tonight
CHAM
HAW
 
1st Intermission
NJD 2
TAM 0
 
1st
OTT 2
ANA 0
 
1st
DET 1
NYI 0
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
BOS
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
DAL