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Thread: Pens Are Getting Closer And Closer To Securing The 4th Seed

      
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    Default Pens Are Getting Closer And Closer To Securing The 4th Seed

    Penguins inch closer to No. 4 seed

    By Rob Rossi, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Sunday, April 3, 2011



    Here's a look at the Penguins' and Tampa Bay Lightning's remaining schedules, as the clubs battle for the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed and home-ice advantage in a likely first-round Stanley Cup playoff series:

    Penguins

    Tuesday: Devils (Pens 3-1-1 against Devils this season)
    Friday: at Islanders (3-1-1)
    Sunday: at Thrashers (3-0-0)

    Lightning

    Sunday: at Blackhawks (Lightning 1-0-0 against Blackhawks this season)
    Tuesday: at Sabres (2-1-0)
    Friday: Panthers (1-1-3)
    Saturday: at Hurricanes (3-2-0)

    SUNRISE, Fla. The race between the Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning for the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed is the Penguins' to lose with one week remaining in the regular season.

    Improbably, considering their 4-2 victory Saturday night over the Florida Panthers at BankAtlantic Center marked the first time in six games they scored more than two goals, the Penguins still have a shot to win the Atlantic Division.

    The mere suggestion brought smiles to the faces of relieved-but-not-satisfied Penguins players.

    "It was a huge win," winger Pascal Dupuis said after scoring his 14th goal early in the second period to tie the score, 2-2.

    Zbynek Michalek broke the tie, scoring only the Penguins' fifth goal by a defenseman since Alex Goligoski was traded Feb. 21. Michalek's shot "an absolute bomb," said goalie Brent Johnson eluded Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen with 7:11 remaining in regulation, giving him four goals on the season.

    An empty-net marker by forward Craig Adams with 1:30 left sealed a significant victory.

    Even though the Tampa Bay Lightning won in regulation at Minnesota, the Penguins can lock down home-ice advantage in at least Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs potentially against the Lightning by winning their remaining three games.

    The Penguins (46-25-8, 100 points) can max out at 106 points. The Lightning (43-24-11, 97 points) can do no better than 105 points.

    Dupuis said his club wasn't aware of the Lightning's victory earlier in the day.
    "Maybe the coaches knew," he said.

    Penguins coach Dan Bylsma knew Johnson, making his 19th start, was awaiting word from his wife that their baby had arrived.

    "Her due date was (yesterday)," Johnson said after stopping 28 shots for his 12th victory. "The little baby doesn't want to come out yet."

    The Penguins wanted to come out of their troubling offensive slump, and center Jordan Staal led that charge with three assists tied for his most points on the season. He also now has played more games (40) than he missed (39) to open the season.

    Perhaps this outburst, Staal's first points in six games, will spark him to strong finish over the final three regular-season games and into a postseason that could redefine his young career if he leads the Penguins on a deep run.

    The likelihood of the Penguins having top center Sidney Crosby for the start of the playoffs remains slim, even though he has participated in noncontact practices with teammates the past three days. Crosby hasn't played since Jan. 5 because of a concussion but remains the team leader in goals (32) and points (66).

    The Penguins have been without their other former scoring champion, center Evgeni Malkin, since Feb. 4. He won't return this season while recovering from right-knee surgery.

    Even without Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins have hit the 100-point plateau for a second consecutive season. Despite enduring 336 man-games lost to injury as of yesterday, the Penguins are just two points behind Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division lead. The Flyers play host to the New York Rangers today, one of their four remaining games.

    Expect the Penguins to be watching that game in the afternoon and the Lightning's game at Chicago tonight. The Rangers and Blackhawks are fighting for their respective playoff lives.

    Last night's victory snaps an unenviable streak for the Penguins, who hadn't won in regulation since March 15, a span of seven games.

    They hadn't scored more than three goals in six games, dating to a 5-4 shootout win at Detroit on March 21.

    A goal by right wing Tyler Kennedy his 20th, adding to his career-best total staked the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 1:45 of the opening period, but the Penguins trailed, 2-1, at intermission. Winger Jack Skille and defenseman Clay Wilson scored 22 seconds apart late in the first period to push the Panthers ahead.

    Dupuis scored 45 seconds into the second period, and the Penguins clamped down defensively. The Panthers registered only three shots, as the Penguins carried momentum into the final period.

    Florida finished with 30 shots and just 15 during the final 40 minutes.
    "It was an up-and-down game," Michalek said. "After the first period, we decided that's not how we're going to play."

    Read more: Penguins inch closer to No. 4 seed - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...#ixzz1IZOWb44E
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    Default Re: Pens Are Getting Closer And Closer To Securing The 4th Seed

    I like our chances against the Bolts. Home ice or not.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pens Are Getting Closer And Closer To Securing The 4th Seed

    Hell they're within a point of Philly again.


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