NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 15: Luke Schenn #22 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Adam Henrique #14 of the New Jersey Devils battle for a loose puck during the game at the Prudential Center on February 15, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers prepare for critical game vs Devils

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Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers will head to the Prudential Center for a match against the New Jersey Devils at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Just how big is this game for Philadelphia? Flyers starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov thinks their season is as good as over if they lose both games of their home-and-home series against the Devils tonight and Friday.

“Maybe the two biggest games of the season for us,” 33-year-old forward Simon Gagne said. “After that it could be a big difference where we want to be in the standings.”

That’s certainly true, and it’s for the same reason that the New Jersey Devils can’t afford to lose this these contests either. Only four points separate these two squads and while New Jersey has the superior record, they have only the slimmest of leads in the Eastern Conference standings.

“Obviously Philly is playing for their life here and we should have the same mindset,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said in a Star-Ledger report.

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Since Martin Brodeur’s last game, the Devils are an ugly 2-6-1, although they have recently eked out shootout wins against the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets in between a blowout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Brodeur (back) is making progress, however slowly, but in the meantime they need to win some big games like this one without him.

Otherwise teams on the outside looking in like the Flyers will catch up with them before Brodeur has a chance to block another shot.

Probable goaltenders: PHI – Bryzgalov (12-11-1, 2.77 GAA, .899 SV%) | NJD – Johan Hedberg (4-7-2, 2.97 GAA, .879 SV%)

Top scorers: PHI – Jakub Voracek (12-17-29, 27 GP) | NJD – Patrik Elias (8-17-25, 26 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Philadelphia – Forwards: Tye McGinn (eye), Jody Shelley (hip) Defensemen: Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion), Chris Pronger (concussion)
New Jersey – Forwards: Dainius Zubrus (wrist) Defensemen: Henrik Tallinder (lower body) Goaltenders: Brodeur (back)

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.