Penguins look to draw even in points with Flyers
PENGUINS (32-20-5) at FLYERS (32-18-7)
TV: NHLN-US, ROOT, CSN-PH
Pittsburgh 6-3-1; Philadelphia 4-4-2
This is the third of six meetings between the intrastate rivals. The Flyers won the first two games, most recently a 4-2 win Dec. 29 in Pittsburgh that saw ex-Penguins Maxime Talbot and Jaromir Jagr score in their first games back there with the Flyers.
The Penguins have surged to within two points of the fourth-place Flyers. Can they keep their roll going? Or can the Flyers win consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 10-12?
The Penguins shuffled a few lines in Friday's practice as they prepare for the Flyers on Saturday, a game that should include Arron Asham
back in the lineup. Asham has been out since Jan. 15 due to a concussion. He skated Friday at right wing on a line with left wing Matt Cooke
and center Dustin Jeffrey
The top line of Evgeni Malkin
centering Chris Kunitz
and James Neal
stayed the same. Other trios saw Jordan Staal
centering Pascal Dupuis
and Steve Sullivan
, and Joe Vitale
between Craig Adams
and Richard Park
"Not having the matchup on the road plays into that a little bit as well," coach Dan Bylsma said about the changes. "Having another physical presence on each line is something you saw we had today. One of the things that was evident against Anaheim, we had some good shifts and zone time. We didn't a lot get around the net and we didn't get inside there, penetrate. Against teams like that, bigger defensive teams that crowd the house, you have to get on the inside. Playing on the outside is not going to get you much. A little bigger presence on some of those lines."
Nicklas Grossman said he was as surprised as many other people to learn he had been traded to the Flyers by the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
"I was getting ready to go to the game (against the Calgary Flames) and got a call from (GM Joe) Nieuwendyk," said Grossman, who was acquired for a pair of draft picks. "It was shocking at first, but I’m happy to be here."
Grossman, who was paired with Andrej Meszaros for his first practice Friday, said he's happy to be in a hockey-oriented town like Philadelphia.
"There's a lot of good history here and it's a big hockey town," Grossman said. "The fans are really into it. I'm really excited to come here and play in a hockey-based town. It's going to be exciting to be on this team."
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin
, the League's leading scorer, has 5 goals and 5 assists in his last five games. … Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds had his second 2-goal game of the season Thursday, and in his last eight games, he's scored 7 times.
Penguins forward Sidney Crosby
(concussion) and Tyler Kennedy
(high ankle sprain) are out. … Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk is out indefinitely with a concussion. Center Danny Briere is questionable with an upper-body injury suffered in the first period of Thursday's game, and Jagr is questionable due to the flu. Forward Tom Sestito will be out 6-8 weeks with a torn groin muscle suffered in Thursday's game.
In 32 regular-season games against the Flyers, Malkin has 18 goals, 28 assists and 46 points -- that's the most in each category he's scored against any other NHL team.
Flyers rookie defenseman Erik Gustafsson scored his first NHL goal in Thursday's 7-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres, snapping a shot over the blocker of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
"It is one of the better feelings I have had in my life," he said after the game. "To get it at home, it is one of the best feelings in my life."
The good feelings might not have lasted long. To make room for Grossman on the roster, Gustafsson was sent to AHL Adirondack on Friday.