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'Bitter' Penguins hungry for rematch against Flyers

| Thursday, March 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The Flyers' Wayne Simmonds beats Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun for a goal during the first period Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, at Consol Energy Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

About 5.4 goals are scored every NHL game.

In the past 15 meetings between the Penguins and Flyers, 120 goals have been scored — eight per game.

This most surreal rivalry resumes at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

“We actually did play a lot better with a lead the other day (against Tampa Bay),” Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I think that's something that needs to continue.”

Playing well with a lead, specifically against the Flyers, is something the Penguins need to initiate.

Philadelphia is 10-5 in its past 15 games against the Penguins, even though the Penguins have scored first in 10 of those meetings. When scoring first against the Flyers during that span, the Penguins are 3-7. They've blown a lead in eight of their past 10 losses to the Flyers.

A 6-5 loss to the Flyers two weeks ago did not sit well with the Penguins. They took an early lead, squandered it, evened the game late and then lost on a Jakub Voracek goal.

“We're a little bitter about that game, to be honest,” Niskanen said. “We battled back, then they get a crazy one to win it. We're anxious as always to play them. We want to beat them.”

Scoring hasn't been a problem for the Penguins this season — they lead the NHL with 81 goals — or historically against the Flyers. Their inability to play well with a lead, though, has been a problem against Philadelphia.

This contest is significant for both teams. A victory puts the Penguins nine points clear of the Flyers and further damages Philadelphia's playoff standing. The Flyers are ninth in the conference, the Penguins second.

A Flyers win, however, pulls them within striking distance of the Penguins and further damages the Penguins' psyche against the team they struggle to defeat.

“It's always nice to see the orange jersey, to see them on our schedule,” right wing Pascal Dupuis said. “We know what they're going to try to do. We just have to do a better job.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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