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The rivalry between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms has always been an intense one. But this year’s series between the two teams takes on even more significant when you look at how the two teams have performed thus far this season.

The Penguins currently hold down the top spot in the American Hockey League with a .763 points percentage (61 points in 40 games). There’s just one other club in the AHL with a points percentage over the .700 mark, and that happens to be the Phantoms, who have 52 points in 37 games.

Needless to say, the 11 times the teams meet over the final three months of the season could go a long way in helping to deciding who the Atlantic Division champion will be.

The teams’ stats are strikingly similar.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has allowed the fewest goals against per game in the league at 2.325, while Lehigh Valley is close behind, ranking fourth overall at 2.648.

The Phantoms lead the AHL by averaging 3.675 goals for per game, while the Penguins place third overall at 3.425.

The Penguins have put together a pair of seven-game winning streaks this season, while the Phantoms’ eight-game streak from November 2-18 is tied for the longest in the league this year.

And the Keystone State foes are two of just three clubs (Grand Rapids is the other) to not have a losing or winless streak stretch past two games.

There is some separation on special teams, as Lehigh Valley ranks fifth overall with a 23.5% success rate on the power play, compared to the Penguins’ 10th place showing at 18.9%.

The Penguins flip the script on the PK however, ranking second in the entire league with an 86.7% success rate, while the Phantoms are 16th overall at 82.1%.

So what do those numbers all add up to? We’ll see soon enough.  The clubs begin what’s sure to be a hard-fought stretch of games this Friday night in Allentown.

NOTES: Penguins forward Carter Rowney missed the entire month of December (and part of January) due to injury, but has come back strong since rejoining the lineup. He has five points in his first four games back, and carries a career-best four-game goal streak into this weekend’s action.

Tristan Jarry won his league-leading 17th game of the season on Wednesday night in Hershey, equalling the win total from his rookie campaign. His 34 career wins are ninth on the team’s all-time list. Dany Sabourin is eighth with 38 wins, and Marc-Andre Fleury is seventh with 39.

Tom Kostopoulos is four points away from hitting the 500 mark for his AHL career. His 826 penalty minutes are third on the Penguins all-time list, and just four behind Darcy Verot’s second place total of 830.

The Penguins’ next home game is Saturday, Jan. 21, and once again their opponent is Hershey. Fewer than 400 tickets remain for Saturday night’s contest against the Bears.

Individual game tickets for the game on Jan. 21 and all Penguins home games, are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.

Penguins ticket packages, including 22-game12-game, and 10-voucher flex packs, are available directly through the Penguins offices by calling (570) 208-7367.