Flyers to Host the Travel-Inept Wild, Welcome Back Darroll Powe

Flyers to Host the Travel-Inept Wild, Welcome Back Darroll Powe

The Philadelphia Flyers return home to the Wells Fargo Center for the
first time in over a week this to take on the Minnesota Wild at 7 p.m.  this evening.

For the Flyers, this will be their first game at home since defeating
Ottawa in overtime ten days prior. After splitting two of their last
four on the road, the team will play 11 of its next 15 at the Center, a
welcome change from playing that exact same stretch (11 of 15) away from Philadelphia in recent weeks.

The return to the friendly confines couldn't come any sooner for the
team, as Minnesota, thankfully, is just atrocious on the road.

How bad you ask? The Wild have not won a game away from the Xcel
Energy Center since defeating the Phoenix Coyotes on Dec. 10. The team
is 0-7-2 on the road over that stretch.

Even better for the Flyers, starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom is
expected back in net for the Wild after missing time with an illness.
Though that sentence may sound somewhat surprising given Backstrom's
resume as one of the better goaltenders in the league, he has struggled
against the Orange & Black. In four career games against
Philadelphia, Backstrom sports a 1-3-0 record and 3.72 GAA. Should he
not be able to go, backup Josh Harding will be between the pipes.
Harding, who has had his struggles of late, was plenty solid in his last
start against the St. Louis Blues, stopping 47 of 49 shots in his
team's 3-2 overtime loss.

One member of the Wild who will not be returning to the lineup is
captain Mikko Koivu. Koivu is expected to miss the next two weeks with
an upper-body injury, an ailment that could open up a spot on the
NHL All-Star roster for Flyer Scott Hartnell.

Also, be on the lookout for the return of former Flyer Darroll Powe,
who will be making his first trip back to the Wells Fargo Center since
being swapped for a third round pick this past summer as part of Paul
Holgren's massive roster overhaul.

Puck drop, again, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Ilya Bryzgalov is expected in goal for the Flyers since he's the No. 1 and Laviolette doesn't believe
in numbers and some other stuff.

See you post-game.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final


PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).