Flyers host banged-up Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins' schedule has not been particularly kind to them or their growing injury list, but it hasn't gotten in the way of them climbing up the Eastern Conference standings.

The Penguins returned east after a 3-0-1 trip through western Canada and will make a final stop in Philadelphia to face the free-falling Flyers on Wednesday night.

Defenseman Mark Streit, acquired from the Flyers via the Tampa Bay Lightning at the NHL trade deadline, became the latest Penguins player to hit the injured list when he suffered a lower-body injury while blocking a shot in Monday night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Flames, who won their 10th straight.

The Penguins are now without four defensemen (Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Trevor Daley and now Streit) and four forwards (Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist and Matt Cullen).

Cullen (undisclosed) could be available to face the Flyers and Letang (upper body) is day-to-day. The others are expected to return in time for the playoffs.

Monday's loss in Calgary ended a five-game win streak for the Penguins, who will try to shake off a cross-continental flight to Philadelphia. The Pens have beaten the Flyers in each of their first two meetings, 5-4 in Philadelphia on Oct. 29 and 4-2 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Feb. 25.

The Pens have gotten solid production from their top line of Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary, who have combined for 12 points over the past three games, including a six-point night in Calgary.

"They've been pretty dynamic," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "They're a line that has some chemistry right now. The three of them, I think they're hard to play against."

Goaltender Matt Murray (26-8-3), rested in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury on Monday, is expected to get the start for the Penguins. Michal Neuvirth (10-10-1) could get the call for the Flyers.

Philadelphia has lost three straight and, barring a late run, could be destined to become the first team in NHL history to win 10 games in a row but fail to make the playoffs. The Flyers have struggled on special teams lately, going 2-for-26 on the power play in their past six games and allowing seven power-play goals on their last 12 shorthanded situations.

"We're not looking for any moral victories, point blank," second-year coach Dave Hakstol said. "We didn't get the result we needed (Monday), so we've got to go back to it. Starting with me, we've got to do better."

A few players were asked Monday if their uphill climb has left them mentally fatigued.

"No, I don't think so," said goalie Steve Mason. "We are playing the same amount of games as everyone else so there is no reason for us to be tired. We just have to find ways to dig in here. It will be a really strong test here (on Wednesday against the Penguins)."

The Flyers have had trouble with their starts lately. They allowed the Columbus Blue Jackets to jump out to an early 2-0 lead in a 5-3 loss on Monday and have been outscored 57-37 in first periods this season.

The Penguins signed coveted forward, Zach Aston-Reese, of Northeastern University in Boston, on Tuesday to a two-year entry-level deal that kicks in starting next season.

Aston-Reese is a 6-foot, 204-pound forward who led the NCAA with 31 goals and 63 points with Northeastern this past season.
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