The top spot in the Atlantic Division
will be up for grabs Tuesday when the first-place Philadelphia Flyers and the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins hook up for their sixth and final regular season meeting. The puck drops from Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center at 4 p.m. (PT).
There has been a definite pattern to the first five meetings between these two Pennsylvania rivals. The visiting team has captured four of the first five matchups, with the ‘under’ also cashing on four occasions.
Despite the visiting team’s recent success, the overnight line made by Sports Club has Pittsburgh as a 140 home favorite. The total is set at 5 ½ ‘under’ (minus 130).
The two previous meetings in Pittsburgh both resulted in identical 3-2 Philadelphia victories. The Oct. 7 match saw the Flyers close as 155 road underdogs, with the combined five goals slithering ‘under’ the six-goal closing total.
Two weeks later, the Flyers repeated the feat as 115 road underdogs. The ‘under’ cashed once more when the total again closed at six goals.
In fact, the ‘under’ is 7-2 in the last nine series meetings in Pittsburgh. However, the two Flyers’ wins are not the norm. The Penguins are 17-6 in the last 23 home games against the Flyers.
Pittsburgh has captured two of the three meetings in Philadelphia this season, and has outscored the Flyers 7-2 during the two victories.
The Penguins have gone 6-for-25 on the power play during the five meetings, while the Flyers are 4-for-23. Pittsburgh has also outshot Philadelphia, 145-138.
Peter Laviolette’s Flyers are off Sunday’s 2-1 loss against the Boston Bruins as 115 home favorites. The setback, Philadelphia’s third in its last four games, left the squad two points ahead of the Penguins and Capitals for the Eastern Conference’s best record.
The combined three goals dipped below the 5 ½-goal closing total, allowing the ‘under’ to cash in the last three Flyers’ games. The ‘under’ is now 43-32 in Philadelphia’s first 75 overall outings and 21-16 in its first 37 road dates.
Kris Versteeg was responsible for the lone goal against the Bruins, and it allowed the Flyers’ forward to reach the 20-goal plateau for the third time in four seasons.
Brian Boucher, who stopped 34 shots in a losing effort, saw his ledger dip to 17-9-4 with a 2.39 GAA and .917 save percentage in 32 appearances.
Sergei Bobrovski has been between the Flyers’ pipes 48 times and has a 27-11-3-3 record with a 2.53 GAA and .917 save percentage. Neither netminder has registered a shutout.
Pittsburgh set an NHL record Sunday by recording its fourth straight shootout victory. This time, it was a 2-1 success against the Florida Panthers as a hefty 215 home favorite.
The combined three goals ducked below the five-goal closing total, allowing the ‘under’ to cash in Pittsburgh’s last three contests. In fact, the ‘under’ is now 13-3-1 in the Pens’ last 17 home efforts and 47-26-3 overall.
Dan Bylsma’s Penguins have allowed one goal or less in six of their last nine games, which has helped lift their defense into sixth place at 2.4 goals against per game. Much of the stellar defense can be attributed to Pittsburgh’s top-rated penalty kill, which has an 86.3 percent success rate.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who is on an 11-game winning streak, was once again unbeatable in the shootout. He has allowed just one goal on nine attempts in the past three shootouts. Fleury improved his record to 34-18-3-2 with a 2.28 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
Left winger James Neal put the exclamation point on the victory by notching his third shootout-clinching goal in the past week.
It’s well known that the Pens are enjoying this success without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, but they also have other injury concerns entering Tuesday’s contest.
Center Mark Letestu (shoulder), left wing Dustin Jeffery (knee) and backup goalie Brent Johnson (neck) are all listed as “questionable” on the Don Best Sports injury report.
Philadelphia returns home Thursday against the Atlanta Thrashers, while Pittsburgh travels to Tampa Bay for Thursday’s outing against the Lightning.