The well-rested Philadelphia Flyers will take a shot at ending the Pittsburgh Penguins' 11-game winning streak when the Pennsylvania rivals meet for Sunday's contest at CONSOL Energy Center.
Pittsburgh is a perfect 11-0 in March and has vaulted to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, where it leads Montreal by three points. The Penguins are also running away with the Atlantic Division, as they currently hold a 12-point advantage over the New Jersey Devils.
The Flyers, meanwhile, are tied for 13th place in the East and sit five points out of a playoff spot, but Philadelphia is known for playing the Penguins extremely tough. Philly beat the Pens in six games during a memorable opening- round playoff series last spring and although Pittsburgh has won two of three encounters in 2013, the Flyers were the last team to win at CONSOL Energy Center.
Philadelphia recorded a dramatic 6-5 win in Pittsburgh on Feb. 20 with Jakub Voracek providing the game-winner with 91 seconds remaining in regulation. The Flyers are 5-1-0 all-time at CONSOL Energy Center in the regular season.
However, the Pens have won eight straight on home ice since the February loss to Philadelphia and have an 11-4-0 record as the host this season.
Pittsburgh's most recent win came on the road, as the Pens notched a 4-2 decision Friday against the New York Islanders. Brandon Sutter scored the winner early in the third period to help the Penguins match Chicago for the longest winning streak by an NHL team this season.
The Penguins are the first team in NHL history to win at least 10 games in a row for three consecutive seasons. The team went on an 11-game run from Feb. 21-March 17 of last season and won 12 in a row from Nov. 17-Dec. 11, 2010.
Pascal Dupuis had a goal and an assist, while Chris Kunitz and Joe Vitale also scored for Pittsburgh, which got 33 saves from Tomas Vokoun.
"We bended, but didn't break," said Vokoun. "That's been the team here lately, we've been down a couple games and came back in the third."
Pittsburgh was without center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang on Friday. Malkin has missed seven in a row since suffering an upper-body injury against Toronto on March 9, while Letang missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. Both players will sit out Sunday's game.
Tyler Kennedy also missed Friday's game with an illness, but he is expected to be back for Pittsburgh on Sunday. The winger has scored 10 of his 74 career goals against the Flyers.
The Flyers hope Sunday's game against their intrastate rivals can get them headed in the right direction. Philly hasn't played since losing a 4-2 decision at Tampa Bay on Monday. It was the fifth loss in seven games for the Flyers, who are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Philadelphia was tied 2-2 with the Lightning after 40 minutes but Teddy Purcell scored the game-winner in the third period and Steven Stamkos sealed the victory with an empty-netter.
Claude Giroux and former Penguin Maxime Talbot scored for the Flyers, who have dropped four straight on the road to fall to 4-12-0 as the guest this season. Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves in defeat.
"It's frustrating to not come away with two points when we play a good game," Giroux said. "We just have to keep competing and working hard."
Following Sunday's game, the Flyers will return to the City of Brotherly Love for a five-game homestand. The stay at Wells Fargo Center is set to begin Tuesday against the New York Rangers.
Philadelphia will not have Danny Briere on Sunday after the forward suffered an upper body injury in Saturday's practice. The highly-paid sniper has underachieved this season with five goals and eight assists in 26 games.
Briere is listed by the team as day-to-day.