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WATCH LIVE: Flyers visit Penguins on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday night’s matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

It’s time to put up for shut up for the Philadelphia Flyers, who only need wins and a lot of help from those around them down the stretch here.

Complicating matters is the potential absence of Claude Giroux from the game. Flyers coach Scott Gordon said Sunday that Giroux is battling an illness. Philly has lost two in a row, including a 7-6 heartbreaker against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday when they coughed up a 5-2 second-period lead. The Flyers had been rolling prior to that, winning six of their past eight.

They’re now eight points back of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wildcard in the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is 6-2-0 in their past eight games but enter Sunday coming off a 5-1 loss against the St. Louis Blues 24 hours earlier, a defeat that ended their three-game winning streak.

The Penguins are sitting in the third spot in the Metropolitan, two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes and four points back of the Washington Capitals for first place.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Where: PPG Paints Arena
When: Sunday, March 17, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Flyers-Penguins stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

FLYERS
Claude Giroux — Nolan PatrickTravis Konecny
Oskar LindblomSean CouturierJakub Voracek
James van RiemsdykScott LaughtonMichael Raffl
Phil Varone — Corban Knight — Ryan Hartman
Ivan ProvorovTravis Sanheim
Shayne GostisbeherePhilippe Myers
Robert HaggRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Carter Hart

PENGUINS
Jared McCannSidney CrosbyJake Guentzel
Teddy BluegerEvgeni MalkinPhil Kessel
Dominik SimonNick BjugstadPatric Hornqvist
Joseph Blandisi – Matt CullenGarrett Wilson

Jack JohnsonJustin Schultz
Brian Dumoulin – Zach Trotman
Marcus PetterssonErik Gudbranson

Starting goalie: Matt Murray

Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Liam McHugh alongside Mike Milbury and Keith Jones.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers in desperation mode vs. Penguins

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday night’s matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Philadelphia’s odds of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs hang by the thinnest of threads. Back-to-back regulation losses will do that to a team.

After beating Ottawa 3-2 on Monday, the Flyers put up a dud in a 5-2 loss against the Washington Capitals on Thursday and then choked — hard — the following night in a 7-6 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a game where they led 5-2 in the second period before five unanswered goals unraveled them and perhaps their season.

“We’re going to have to move on and be ready to go for Sunday,” Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk, who had a hat trick in the Toronto game, said. “It gets to the point where you only have so many bullets left in the chamber. We have to have a pretty good run the rest of the way to put ourselves in a position.”

The Flyers made things interesting when they scored with the net empty and just over a minute left.

“We weren’t mature enough to keep our game where it needed to be and play better with the puck to not give them opportunities to come back,” Gudas said following the game. “That’s what came back to bite us.”

Claude Giroux will be featured on Star Sunday for the Flyers.

The Flyers captain had a hat trick of assists in Friday’s loss and has 76 points in 71 games this season. Giroux is having another fine year, and has six multi-point games in his past 10. He’s doing his job for the Flyers

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

The Penguins had their three-game winning streak halted by the impressive St. Louis Blues on Saturday as Jordan Binnington made 40 saves in a 5-1 win for the latter.

These things happen when your top line puts up a goose egg. The trio of Jared McCann, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel combined for no points and a minus-nine rating in the game after having 14 points combined during their three-game heater. Their power-play was 0-for-4 after clipping along at 46 percent during the streak and Matt Murray was yanked after giving up four goals on 13 shots. The team allowed five goals total in their previous three games.

It wasn’t for lack of trying from the Pens. They put up 41 shots in an effort to solve ‘Winnington’. The Pens are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games and sit two points up on the Carolina Hurricanes for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Crosby will be the Pens’ featured player for Star Sunday.

Despite being held off the scoresheet on Saturday, he has 35 points in 24 games since the All-Star Break.

Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick (play-by-play) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Liam McHugh alongside Mike Milbury and Keith Jones.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Flyers’ season on life-support after collapse against Leafs

Associated Press
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It appears that Philadelphia’s plan to tank the first half the of the season only to rise up for an attempted epic comeback into a playoff spot has all but failed.

Mathematically, the Flyers aren’t dead in the water, but soul-sucking losses like the one they endured on Friday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs sting so much more at this time of the year.

The Flyers held a 5-2 lead midway through the second period in Toronto when the wheels began to fall off, followed by the transmission right before the engine blew to pieces. The Maple Leafs scored five unanswered to take a 7-5 lead and then held on as James van Riemsdyk‘s hat-trick goal gave the Flyers some time to find an equalizer late. It would never come.

That’s a tough pill to swallow, evidenced by how hard the Flyers choked in this game. Scoring six goals should be an automatic win. Of course, allowing seven should be an automatic loss.

The Flyers sit seven points back of the Carolina Hurricanes (who lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets. They began the night there, but with 11 games remaining instead of 12 now, the chances to make up seven points in the span are incredibly slim (like two percent slim). And their schedule isn’t a walk in the park, with dates with the Penguins, Capitals, Islanders and Maple Leafs coming up in the near future.

Toronto, meanwhile, pulled themselves to within two points of the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic. The teams are destined to play each other in the first round at this point, but the battle for home-ice advantage is heating up down the stretch here.

Toronto nearly came back from a 5-0 deficit to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, so they had some practice before they went down in this one. Goaltending continues to be an issue for the Leafs, but on some nights, they can outscore all their problems.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins looking to push point streak to 20 vs. Penguins

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday night’s matchup between the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Boston Bruins are on an incredible run at the moment.

Fifteen wins in their past 17 games, including a six-game winning streak, and they’ve earned at least a point in 19 straight with a 15-0-4 record. They haven’t lost a game in regulation in nearly two months (Jan. 19), and the whole thing isn’t even all that new to Boston, who went 18 games last year without a loss in regulation. While no one is catching the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Presidents’ Trophy, the Bruins’ 93 points are good for second place in the NHL.

Boston is chasing history, with the 1940-41 Bruins’ 23 straight games with a point in the crosshairs.

Star Sunday will feature Brad Marchand for the Bruins, who is on pace for a career-year. He has already amassed 81 points (28 goals, 53 assists) and is four points shy of the career-best mark he’s set in each of the past two seasons. Marchand is on a heater at the moment, too, with four goals and six assists in a six-game point streak. He’s been a force during Boston’s 19-game point streak with 28 points during that time.

Boston beat Ottawa 3-2 on Saturday.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Pittsburgh, too, played Saturday and enters Sunday’s game licking its wounds after a 4-1 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

A win Sunday would put the Penguins into third place in the Metropolitan Division, usurping the Carolina Hurricanes and, more importantly, creating some space from the two wild-card spots in the East.

The Pens will have some recent history on their side heading into this one having not lost to the Bruins at PPG Paints Arena since 2015. They scored at least four goals in each of those wins. Pittsburgh has won three of their past four games and has points in 10 of their past 13.

Evgeni Malkin will be featured on Star Sunday for the Penguins. He enters the game two points shy of the 1,000-point club and would become the 88th player — and just fifth active — to achieve the feat.

“I try to do my best,” Malkin said earlier this season. “Of course, I have great motivation. I look at my 1,000 points. Huge point, in my opinion. I want to finish this year. We want to play in the playoffs. We want to be a great team. We want the Cup back.”

Malkin has 28 points in 23 games since the beginning of 2019.

Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Ed Olczyk (analyst) and Emmy Award-winner Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside Kevin Jones and Patrick Sharp.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Penguins’ Murray offers up two candidates for save of the year

Sportsnet
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There’s nothing a goalie can do that is more spectacular than a desperation paddle save.

The odds of saving a shot with a few inches of composite material are very low, so when they happen, they’re something to marvel at.

It was Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray‘s paddle on Saturday night in a pivotal game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

And my, oh my, was it a save to behold in the first period.

Poor Boone Jenner. He did everything you’re supposed to do to score the goal.

And so did Markus Nutivaara. But he, too, was robbed by a filthy save in the second frame.

The game has been full of highlight-reel saves from Murray, who if not for him, the Penguins would be getting blown out.

Here’s another ridiculous save.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck