Season series: This is the last of six meetings, four of which have been won by the Penguins. On Oct. 8, Alex Goligoski and Bill Guerin scored midway through the second period to help the Penguins earn a 5-4 road win. On Dec. 15, Jordan Staal scored twice and Sidney Crosby's goal and assist lifted the Penguins to a 6-1 home win. On Dec. 17, Crosby and Kris Letang scored shootout goals for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 road win. On Jan. 7, James van Riemsdyk and Jeff Carter scored two goals each for the Flyers in a 7-4 road win. On Jan. 24, Matt Cooke scored with 1:47 remaining in the third period to give the Penguins a 2-1 road win.
Big story: The Pennsylvania-based teams have been struggling of late. Both are coming off disappointing losses in which they coughed up third-period leads, but the Flyers and Penguins should be in the postseason come April 12. In the season's final two weeks, each squad is looking for consistency and momentum.
"What you want to try to avoid is put yourself in a position where it comes down to the last day because you never know," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette told the Burlington County Times. "You just never know."
Flyers: Philadelphia hits the road for one game following a 4-3 overtime loss against Minnesota on Thursday at Wachovia Center. It was their third game without Carter, their leading goal scorer, who is out for the remainder of the regular season with a broken bone in his foot.
The Flyers squandered a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes, allowing two goals in the third period before Kyle Brodziak’s winner in overtime.
"It's very disappointing," Laviolette said. "You're talking about segments within a game. The scoring chances were heavily lopsided. There were lapses, lapses that cost us the game."
Brian Boucher made 17 saves and slipped to 1-4-1 since replacing Michael Leighton as the Flyers' No. 1 goalie on March 16. Leighton is out 8-to-10 weeks with an ankle injury. The Flyers have captured only four of a possible 14 points in that time.
Penguins: Pittsburgh is beginning a six-game homestand following a 4-3 shootout loss against the Capitals on Wednesday in Washington.
Pittsburgh led 2-1 after two periods, but fell behind 3-2 and needed a late goal by Staal to force overtime. Letang and Crosby scored for Pittsburgh in the first two rounds shootout, but Guerin and Chris Kunitz had their attempts stopped by Jose Theodore.
Maxime Talbot and Guerin scored for the Penguins in the second period.
Pittsburgh has lost four of five and missed a chance to move ahead of the New Jersey Devils for first place in the Atlantic Division.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin sat out for the fourth time in five games with a bruised right foot, and Sergei Gonchar was missing with an illness. Coach Dan Bylsma said he doesn't have a target date for Malkin's return, but said "it's not a long-term situation at this point."
Who's hot: For the Flyers, Matt Carle has 4 assists in six games. … For the Penguins, Alexei Ponikarovsky has a goal and 3 assists in four games, and Ruslan Fedotenko has a goal and 2 assists in five games.
Injury report: For the Flyers, Carter (foot), Ray Emery (hip/groin) and Leighton (ankle) are on injured reserve. For the Penguins, Malkin (bruised foot) is day-to-day.
Stat pack: Tyler Kennedy scored his 10th goal of the season on March 18 to give the Penguins 12 players with double digits in goals -- the most in the NHL. … The Penguins have recorded six hat tricks this season, most in the NHL. Those posting three-goal games are Crosby (3 times), Malkin (twice), and Mike Rupp. Crosby’s three hat tricks are the most in the NHL, and the most in a season by a Penguin since Alexei Kovalev had three in 2001-02. … Chris Pronger is the first Flyers defenseman to record 50 points in a season since Eric Desjardins had 55 in 1999-00. … Gagne has 32 points (15-17) in 41 games since returning from injury on Dec. 19.
Puck drop: "I'm getting very concerned. Everyone wants to talk about the playoffs. We've got eight games to go here and we're not playing too well. The way we're playing now, we'll be out in the first round." -- Defenseman Brooks Orpik to the Tribune Review following Pittsburgh's loss on Wednesday