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Flyers-Penguins preview: Pittsburgh is slumping, but still has Sidney Crosby

Sam Carchidi, STAFF WRITER

Updated: Tuesday, January 2, 2018, 8:50 AM

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins will try to end a two-game losing streak when they face the host Flyers on Tuesday. Crosby has 87 points in 60 career games against the Flyers.

Penguins (19-18-3) at Flyers (16-14-8)

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday.

WHERE: Wells Fargo Center.

BROADCAST & STREAMING: NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live, 97.5 FM

SOCIAL MEDIA COVERAGE: @BroadStBull and @samdonnellon on Twiter.

KEY PLAYERS: The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins are 0-2 on their three-game road trip, losing in Carolina, 2-1, and in Detroit on New Year’s Eve, 4-1.

Sidney Crosby, certified Flyers killer, will try to get the Penguins back on track. He has 87 points (37 goals, 50 assists) in 60 career games against the Flyers. In 28 games at the Wells Fargo Center, he has 16 goals and 23 assists for 39 points.

Phil Kessel leads the Penguins in goals (16) and points (42). Crosby has 35 points (14-21) but is minus-13.

Six Penguins have reached double-digits in goals.

The Penguins have allowed the fourth-most goals in the NHL, but injured defensemen Kris Letang (minus-15) and Justin Schultz (plus-1, Pittsburgh’s only “plus” player) are close to returning. Letang, in fact, could return against the Flyers.

Goalie Matt Murray has had a disappointing season for the Penguins. He is 14-11-1 with a 2.98 GAA and .902 save percentage.

The Flyers are led by Sean Couturier (career-high 18 goals) and wingers Claude Giroux (46 points) and Jake Voracek (46 points), who are fifth in the NHL in scoring. Couturier and Robert Hagg are each plus-13.

Brian Elliott (14-9-7), expected to make his 14th straight start, has been one of the Flyers’ most consistent performers. He has a 2.62 GAA and .914 save percentage.

The Flyers are coming off an impressive 5-3 win in Tampa. They are one point behind Pittsburgh but have two games in hand. Both teams are out of a playoff spot.

Eye-opening stat: In five-on-five play, Pittsburgh has been outscored, 91-53. Conversely, the Flyers have outscored their opponents, 65-56, in five-on-five situations.

THINGS TO KNOW: The Flyers have identical 8-7-4 records at home and on the road. … Pittsburgh is just 7-12-2 on the road. …. Overall, the Penguins are 3-7 in their last 10 games, while the Flyers are 6-3-1. … In December, Pittsburgh was 6-8 and the Flyers were 8-4-1. … The Penguins’ power play is tied for second (25 percent success rate) and the Flyers’ is tied for 14th (19.5 percent). … Pittsburgh will try to exploit a Flyers’ PK that is just 29th (76.9 percent success rate). Pittsburgh’s PK is tied for 15th, clicking at 81 percent. … Since Thanksgiving, Pittsburgh’s PK has gone 46 for 51 (90.2 percent). … Former Flyers goalie Michael Leighton is with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Penguins’ AHL affiliate.

HEAD TO HEAD: The Flyers lead the overall series,153-90-30-9, but Pittsburgh has gone 12-6-2 in its last 20 games at the Wells Fargo Center. The Penguins overcame 3-1 and 4-3 deficits and beat the visiting Flyers in overtime on Nov. 27, 5-4. Crosby had three points in that game, including the winning goal. In that game, Murray was injured in the second period and replaced by Tristan Jarry.

COMING FLYERS GAMES:

Thursday: 7 p.m. vs. Islanders.

Saturday: 1 p.m. vs. St. Louis.

Sunday: 1 p.m. vs. Buffalo.

Sam Carchidi, STAFF WRITER

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