Tale of the Tape: Penguins vs Flyers

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On Sunday, the Philadelphia Flyers will host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal (3:00 pm ET, NBC). The Flyers lead the series 2-0; here’s a look at recent history between the two clubs.

Leading scorers

Philadelphia: Claude Giroux (3G-3A-6PTS) | Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby (2G-2A-4PTS)

Starting goalies

Philadelphia: Ilya Bryzgalov (2-0, 3.92 GAA) | Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury (0-2, 5.46 GAA)

Head-to-head

(Philadelphia won reg. season series 4-2)

Dec. 8: At Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2
Dec. 29: Philadelphia 4, at Pittsburgh 2
Feb. 18: Pittsburgh 6, at Philadelphia 4
March 18: At Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2, OT
April 1: Philadelphia 6, at Pittsburgh 4
April 7: At Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 2

Game 1: Philadelphia 4, Pittsburgh 3

Sidney Crosby scored the first goal of the playoffs, kickstarting a dominant period for the Penguins. Although Philadelphia is one of the better teams in the league when it comes to bouncing back after falling behind, the Penguins looked good after establishing a 3-0 lead over 20 minutes.

The second period was a more even affair, most notable for Danny Briere scoring a goal despite being offside — the call was missed and the goal stood, so the Flyers’ got on the board.

Philadelphia did not immediately pick up momentum from that break, but it did mark a slow turning of the tide. Briere netted his second goal of the game at 9:17 of the third period and then Brayden Schenn found the back of the net a little over three minutes later.

That sent the game to overtime, where Jakub Voracek won the game for Philadelphia 2:23 into the extra frame.

Game 2: Philadelphia 4, Pittsburgh 3

Philadelphia, with some hard work and the aid of a big break in Briere’s overtime goal, were able to overcome a sizable deficit in Game 1 — but they could not afford to do that again. The Flyers went into this game knowing they needed to come out strong to avoid putting themselves in another hole.

That plan lasted all of 15 seconds – the time it took Sidney Crosby to once again hand the Penguins a 1-0 lead. The Penguins dominated the first period and went into the intermission with a commanding 3-1 lead. Once again Plan A had failed for the Flyers, but fortunately, Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier had one heck of a Plan B.

Couturier and Giroux combined for six goals over the next 40 minutes. Although the Penguins had their moments over that period, they were brief, and when looking back on the game, those final two periods resemble a slaughter more than an even fight.

Giroux finished the game with six points, the most in a playoff game since April 23, 1992. Couturier was the third rookie in Flyers’ history to earn a playoff hat trick, and the Flyers took a 2-0 series lead — which in their 44-year history, they have never coughed up.

Injuries

Pittsburgh: Matt Niskanen (upper body)

Philadelphia: James van Riemsdyk (foot), Marc-Andre Bourdon (upper body), Tom Sestito (groin), Andrej Meszaros (lower body), Chris Pronger (concussion), Blair Betts (knee), Ian Laperriere (concussion)

Habs sign Mark Streit — is he Markov’s replacement?

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The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.

This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.

Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.

What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.

That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.

Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.

Devils give Mirco Mueller two-year extension

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The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.

Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.

In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.

“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”

The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.

Rangers lock up Zibanejad for next five years

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The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.

The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.

With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.

But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.

Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season

Avalanche reportedly settle with Nieto, avoiding arbitration

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Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.

In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.

Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.