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Flyers-Penguins preview: Battle of Pennsylvania isn’t what it used to be  

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Philadelphia Flyers game vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Remember when a matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins was a must-see event between two bitter rivals?

Well, the Battle of Pennsylvania isn’t what it used to be. Not even close.

The teams are going in different directions, and the Flyers (15-24-8) will be hard-pressed to keep the game close Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

The Flyers, crippled by injuries, are in last place in the Metropolitan Division and have lost 15 of their last 17, including two straight. The Penguins (30-11-8) are atop the Metro and have won three in a row.

For more on the Penguins, check out what our colleagues are saying at Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

Storylines

The Penguins will be fighting to stay in first place – Carolina is one point behind and has three games in hand – and superstar center Sidney Crosby will be trying to score his 500th career goal. He has 49 goals in 78 career games against the Flyers, the most he has scored against any NHL team.

The Flyers will try to build from some positive signs in their 4-2 road loss in Detroit on Saturday. They had their forecheck working, did a better job controlling play, and had a 34-23 shots advantage, but they couldn’t get enough pucks past Thomas Greiss.

Another storyline: This could be Claude Giroux’s final game in Pittsburgh while a member of the Flyers.

Flyers’ projected lineup

Line 1: Giroux centering Oskar Lindblom and Cam Atkinson.

Line 2: Scott Laughton centering James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny.

Line 3: Morgan Frost centering Max Willman and Jackson Cates.

Line 4: Connor Bunnaman centering Isaac Ratcliffe and Zack MacEwen.

Defense: Ivan Provorov and Justin Braun; Travis Sanheim and Nick Seeler; Keith Yandle and Kevin Connauton.

Goalie:  Carter Hart.

Numbers Dept.

Philly is 0-1-1 against the Pens this season and has been outscored, 9-4.

The Penguins are third in the league in goals-allowed per game (2.51) and ninth in goals scored (3.31).

Conversely, the Flyers are 25th in goals allowed (3.36) and 27th in goals scored (2.51).

The Penguins’ special teams are also on a different level than the Flyers’.

Who’s hot

Laughton has three goals and six points over his last five games.

Pittsburgh RW Bryan Rust has been sizzling, collecting seven goals and nine points in the last five games.

Projected goalie matchup­­­

Hart (9-16-5) will make his fifth straight start; he has a 2.89 GAA and .911 save percentage. In his career against the Penguins, he is 4-3-1 with a 2.96 GAA and .908 save percentage, and he has struggled in two appearances against the Pens this season (4.43, .868).

The low-scoring Flyers get a break because Pittsburgh is going with backup goalie Casey DeSmith (3.03, .901).

Tristan Jarry (25-8-6) has been lights-out for the Pens, compiling a 2.20 GAA and .925 save percentage. He is among the NHL leaders in both categories.

How to watch

NBC Sports Philadelphia+ at 7 p.m.

How to bet

Money line (FanDuel)

Flyers: plus-280.

Penguins: minus-360.

Prediction

Penguins 5, Flyers 2.

Prediction record: 12-4.

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