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Flyers, Pens renew rivalry in the Steel City

(SportsNetwork.com) - Although the Pittsburgh Penguins always seems to be ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers in the standings these days, it's the latter club which has earned the better results in recent head-to-head meetings.

The Flyers will aim for a fifth consecutive victory in the Battle of Pennsylvania when they visit the Penguins for Wednesday's clash at Consol Energy Center.

This is the first of four scheduled encounters this season between the Keystone State rivals. The next meeting is in Philadelphia on Jan. 20.

The Pens posted a victory in Philadelphia to open the 2013-14 season series, but the Flyers responded by taking the final four encounters. That streak included three straight wins in the Steel City, where Philly also has won four of five and nine of the past 11 regular-season meetings.

Although the Flyers have fared well against the Pens in recent years, the Orange and Black are struggling in the early going with only one win through their first six games.

Philly earned its only win of the season Saturday in Dallas, but followed that thrilling 6-5 overtime victory with Tuesday's 4-0 setback in Chicago. Patrick Kane scored a pair of power-play goals for the Blackhawks, while Antti Raanta stopped all 32 shots to earn the shutout.

Steve Mason played well in defeat with 39 stops but with the Flyers playing on back-to-back nights, Ray Emery could get the call in net Wednesday. Emery is 6-4-2 with a 2.86 goals against average in his career against Pittsburgh, while Mason is 4-2-1 with a 2.54 GAA in eight outings versus the Pens.

The Flyers were down 3-0 in the opening period after Chicago tallied three times in the span of 2 minutes, 6 seconds late in the stanza. The score stayed that way until Kane notched his third marker of the season in the third period.

"We were like deer in highlights in the first period," Flyers head coach Craig Berube said.

Wednesday's test marks the end of a three-game road trip for Philadelphia. The Flyers' next game is Saturday's home test against Detroit.

The Penguins are 3-1-0 on the young season and recently handed the New York Islanders their first loss of the campaign, posting a 3-1 triumph in Saturday's meeting in the Steel City. The victory came two days after Pittsburgh suffered its first defeat of the season, dropping a 3-2 decision in Thursday's battle with the Dallas Stars.

Although the Pens trailed 1-0 in the first period against the Islanders, Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist helped dig Pittsburgh out of the early hole. Malkin tallied on a 5-on-3 power play at 13:49 of the second to even the score. Then, with Pittsburgh still on the power play, Hornqvist handed his club a 2-1 lead less than a minute after Malkin's score.

Hornqvist would later seal the victory with an empty-netter in the final two minutes of regulation. He has four goals and four assists this season, trailing only captain Sidney Crosby, who has four tallies and five assists, for the team lead in points.

"We have it going right now," Hornqvist said. "We have to keep working and not sit back."

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 34 shots in the win, as his teammates dominated the special teams battle. Pittsburgh went 2-for-4 on the power play, while thwarting all seven of the Islanders' chances with the man advantage.

Fleury will get the start tonight. He is 24-15-2 with a 2.85 goals against average in 47 career games against the Flyers.