Penguins open title defense against Flyers in first round

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won the last two Stanley Cups, and are trying to become the first team to win three straight titles since the New York Islanders won four consecutive cups from 1980-83.

In the Penguins’ way to start things off are the Philadelphia Flyers, who clinched a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia finished second and third, respectively in the Metropolitan Division, separated by just two points in the standings.

What happened during the regular season?

This was a one-sided matchup during the regular season, with the Penguins winning all four games over their in-state rivals, beating the Flyers in regulation both times at home while prevailing in overtime in both games in Pittsburgh. The Pens scored exactly five goals in all four wins, outscoring Philadelphia 20-11 overall.

Who are the key players?

Sidney Crosby won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, so he will of course be one to watch for Pittsburgh, but he’s not along. Evgeni Malkin led the Penguins in scoring (98 points) and goals (42), and Phil Kessel pumped in 34 goals and a career-best 92 points in 2017-2018.

Flyers center Claude Giroux in his 11th season set career highs in goals (34), points (102) and assists (68), leading the NHL in the latter. Giroux scored a hat trick against the Rangers to help punch the Flyers’ ticket to the postseason. Goalie Brian Elliott was 27-11-7 as a starter for Philadelphia, and won nine of his last 10 decisions in net.

What is the Flyers vs. Penguins schedule?

  • Game 1 at Pittsburgh: Wed., April 11, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)
  • Game 2 at Pittsburgh: Fri., April 13, 7 p.m. (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)
  • Game 3 at Philadelphia: Sun., April 15, 3 p.m. (NBC, CBC, TVA Sports)
  • Game 4 at Philadelphia: Wed., April 18, 7 p.m. (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)
  • Game 5 at Pittsburgh (if necessary): Fri., April 20, TBD
  • Game 6 at Philadelphia (if necessary): Sunday, April 22, TBD
  • Game 7 at Pittsburgh (if necessary): Tuesday, April 24, TBD

Online streaming will be available through NBC Sports.

Any playoff history?

The Penguins and Flyers have met six times in the postseason, perhaps most notably in the 2008 Eastern Conference Final. Pittsburgh prevailed in five games a decade ago but lost in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Flyers have won four of their six playoff series, including a six-game triumph over Pittsburgh in the first round in 2012, their last playoff meeting. That was the last time Philadelphia advanced past the first round in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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