PITTSBURGH, PA -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are holding on to the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference but they have their sights set on gaining a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
With 74 points on the year, they trail New York Islanders, who sit third in the division, by just four points. They also are just one point behind the Detroit Red Wings, who are sitting in the first wildcard spot in the East.
They have done an admirable job of keeping pace in their conference. They are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and have collected victories in three of their last four games. They'll be heading into Saturday's matinee match-up on a high as well, thanks to their 4-1 win over their divisional rivals, the New York Rangers.
Led by Evgeni Malkin's three-point night, the Penguins overcame a 1-0 deficit, scoring three goals on Henrik Lundqvist and adding an empty-netter in the dying seconds of the game.
"We tried to play a solid game and go to the net," Malkin told PittsburghPenguins.com afterwards. "It's like the playoffs … It's a team win and it's very important for me."
The team has been pleased with how they're playing in all three zones and are confident in their ability to come back in games if they stick to the system implemented by head coach Mike Sullivan.
"I think being down probably gave us a little bit of jump and urgency," Sidney Crosby told PittsburghPenguins.com. "Each game kind of tells its own story ... Whether we got one in the past [against Lundqvist] or three [on Thursday], I think we're confident we can score goals if we do the right things."
This is the second and final game between the two teams this season. The Flames took the first game of the season series, downing the Penguins 5-2 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Nov. 7.
Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino scored for the Penguins in that game. Flames forwards Mikael Backlund and Johnny Gaudreau each had three points in that contest while Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan had two points each.
BREAKING DOWN THE PENGUINS
Power Play: 18.4 percent overall (37 goals scored in 201 chances with the man advantage), 20.7 percent at home (24 goals scored in 116 chances with the man advantage)
Penalty Kill: 83.7 percent overall (32 goals allowed in 196 times being short-handed), 82.8 percent at home (17 goals allowed in 99 times being short-handed)
2015-16 Record vs. the Flames: 2-0-0
2014-15 Record vs. the Flames: 0-1-0
Notable Injuries: Ben Lovejoy (upper body), Eric Fehr (lower body), Beau Bennett (upper body)
Who's HOT: Evgeni Malkin
The 29-year-old has been producing plenty of offence for his club over the course of the season but he has been particularly effective in the offensive zone in recent games. Malkin has two goals and four points in his last three games and is coming off a three-point effort against the Rangers on Thursday.
Malkin sits second in team scoring with 25 goals and 54 points this season.
Honourable Mention: Sidney Crosby
Crosby has more than made up for his unusually slow start to the 2015-16 campaign. With 26 goals and 61 points, he leads his team in scoring and is tied for sixth in the NHL scoring race. In his last four games, he has one goal and four points and was named the second star in the Penguins win over the Rangers on Thursday.
Who's NOT: Kevin Porter
In 41 games this year, Porter has just three assists and has been held off the scoresheet since Jan. 17. He has just 34 shots on net this year and is a minus-two in the contests he has dressed for.
The 29-year-old signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Penguins this past off-season. In 247 NHL games, he has 29 goals and 58 points.