Banged-up Penguins look to eliminate Flyers
For the Pittsburgh Penguins' second crack at clinching a spot in the second round of the playoffs, they could get a key player back, but the status of another is less clear.
Feisty winger Patric Hornqvist, a stalwart on the power play and a fount of upbeat energy, could return Sunday for Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center after missing the past two games because of an unspecified injury. He practiced Saturday with no contact restrictions.
"Got bumped around a bit," he said, adding that he hopes to play.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin did not practice, and coach Mike Sullivan did not comment on his status, saying all players are game-time decisions.
Malkin -- the Penguins' leading scorer in the regular season who has three goals and five points in the series -- left Game 5 Friday briefly because of an apparent left leg injury after getting tangled with Philadelphia's Jori Lehtera in the first period but returned.
The Flyers avoided elimination by winning that game 4-2. They trail the series 3-2.
"Our team has a next-man-up attitude, and we have capable guys," Sullivan said. "Regardless of who's in the lineup, we believe we're going to win when we play the game the right way."
Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray, who has two shutouts in the series and two Stanley Cups on his resume, remains philosophical.
"We're excited for it. It's a fun time of year to get to play," Murray said. "I'm sure we're disappointed that we didn't get the job done (Friday), but we still get to go play hockey for a living, and things are all right.
"We're looking forward to the game. We've been here before."
While the Penguins practiced before flying to Philadelphia, the Flyers traveled home after Game 5 and on Saturday held a team meeting with no formal practice.
Philadelphia got a boost from a returning player Friday. Top-line center Sean Couturier, who missed Game 4 because of an injury sustained in practice, returned and scored a goal.
"We're still down, but we've battled all year," Couturier said. "We've got to keep battling next game and play the same type of game."
The Flyers also got a strong game from their penalty killers, who snuffed all five Pittsburgh power plays and added a short-handed goal from Valtteri Filppula, and from Michal Neuvirth, one of three goalies Philadelphia has used in this series. In Neuvirth's first start in the series, he made 30 saves and would seem the likely starter Sunday.
"I like playing in the playoffs," Neuvirth said. "I like facing the pressure."
Flyers captain Claude Giroux boldly and correctly predicted his team would win Game 5, and he opened the scoring in that game with his first goal of the series. That eased mounting pressure he was putting on himself.
"You start overthinking it, trying to do much," Giroux said.
Both of the Flyers' wins in the series have come in Pittsburgh. They are 0-2 at home.
"We got two big wins on the road," Giroux said. "Now we've just got to figure out how to play at home. ... We're going to talk about it. We're excited to be back home. It's an advantage for us. It's got to be our best game."
Updated April 22, 2018