Flyers-Penguins Preview

Little has gone wrong for the Pittsburgh Penguins so far this season - something that cannot be said of the rival Philadelphia Flyers.

Sidney Crosby will try to continue his impressive start and help the Penguins hand the Flyers their sixth loss in seven games Wednesday night.

Pittsburgh (3-1-0) has totaled 16 goals and is 8 for 17 on the power play for a league-leading 47.1 success rate. The club's penalty kill has been one of the few early blemishes, allowing opponents to go a combined 6 for 22.

The Penguins improved on that in Saturday's 3-1 win over the previously unbeaten New York Islanders, killing off all seven New York chances, including a 5-on-3 in the second period before Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist scored power-play goals 55 seconds apart.

"They took some heat the last three games, but certainly they came through big time," coach Mike Johnston said of the penalty kill. "That was the turning point in the game, that 5-on-3 kill."

Crosby has been playing especially well on special teams. The reigning Hart Trophy winner's two assists gave him nine points this season - six of them on the power play.

Crosby, who has joined Mario Lemieux (1,033) and Jaromir Jagr (640) as the only Penguins to reach 500 career assists, also has nine points in his last eight meetings with Philadelphia (1-3-2), but only one in the last three.

Pittsburgh is 3-10-1 in its last 14 at home versus the Flyers, including playoffs. The Penguins lost all three meetings there last season as part of a four-game overall slide.

"There's always a lot of intensity, and it's a great atmosphere," Crosby said. "It's exciting to get one of those big ones here early on.

"You get up for these ones a little bit more knowing both teams are at their best. It's physical. It's emotional. Both cities really get into this game, so I think everything combined, it makes for an exciting atmosphere."

Hornqvist is about to get his first taste of the rivalry after spending his first six seasons with Nashville. The right wing has four goals and four assists after scoring twice and combining with Crosby on Malkin's tally against the Islanders.

Hornqvist has two assists in six career meetings with Philadelphia, while Malkin's 80 points in 60 matchups - including the postseason - are his most against any opponent.

The Flyers have allowed four power-play goals while splitting the first two of a three-game trip. Their biggest concern, however, should be avoiding another sluggish start as eight of the 23 non-shootout goals they've allowed have come in the first period - including six in the past three games.

Those issues remained in Tuesday's 4-0 loss at Chicago, which outshot Philadelphia 19-9 in the opening period and scored three goals against Steve Mason in a span of 2:04.

"We had a horrible start," defenseman Mark Streit said. "Mase was pretty much the only guy out there playing his game. It's just not acceptable having a start like that, and if you do you're going to get punished."

The Flyers would benefit from Wayne Simmonds bouncing back after the right wing, who has a team-leading five goals, was held without a point in the last two games.

He has nine points in 10 career regular-season visits to Pittsburgh.

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