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Despite end of streak, Penguins remain class of NHL

by Dave Lozo
Come on, you didn't think an overtime loss on the road in their third game in four days was going to knock the Pittsburgh Penguins from their top spot in the Super 16, did you?

Facing a daunting stretch against Atlantic Division rivals -- the New York Rangers, the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers, the Penguins came away with five of six points despite having their 11-game winning streak snapped in impressive fashion in Philadelphia on Sunday as the Flyers scored the winning goal with nine-tenths of a second remaining in OT.

Sidney Crosby is back, Kris Letang is back, and the healthy Penguins are making it look easy at times.

What does the rest of this week's power rankings look like? Well, not all that different from last week, but the Flyers get a well-deserved bump for their solid week. Let's take a look at the rest:

1 Pittsburgh (44-21-6) 1 If you're the type of person desperate for negative Sidney Crosby news, here you go: He has a 10-game goal drought. However, if you are that type of person, seek help. He has five points in three games since coming back Thursday.
2 St. Louis (46-19-8) 2 Did anyone have the Blues as the first team to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff spot this year? Ken Hitchock is 40-12-8, which averages out to 120 points across 82 games. Here's your Jack Adams, sir.
3 Philadelphia (42-22-8) 4
Their only regulation loss this month came in New Jersey with backup Sergei Bobrovsky in net. Ilya Bryzgalov is 8-0-1 in his past nine starts.  No. 1 in the East is still attainable.
4 Chicago (40-25-8) 7 The acquisition of Johnny Oduya was openly mocked by some experts, but all he's done is go 1-3-4 with a plus-5 in nine games. The Blackhawks are 7-1-1 since getting Oduya.
5 Nashville (42-22-8) 3 Sunday's 3-1 win in Anaheim was the first for Anders Lindback since Dec. 1. The always busy Pekka Rinne had earned the Predators' previous 29 victories in net.
6 N.Y. Rangers (44-20-7) 5
Since winning in Boston on Feb. 14, the Rangers are 7-7-2. What's really disconcerting is the Rangers' record against teams in playoff spots right now during that stretch is 2-7-0.
7 Vancouver (43-20-8) 8
The Canucks have lost four of six, not exactly hitting their stride with the playoffs three weeks away. A four-game road trip starts Monday night in Minnesota.
8 New Jersey (41-26-5) 9
The Devils' only two losses in their past seven games are against the Flyers and Pens.  It has them seemingly earmarked for the sixth spot in the East if they can hold off Ottawa.
9 Dallas (39-28-5) 6 Just like the Coyotes before them, a long win streak vaulted the Stars to the top of the Pacific. The Coyotes lost five straight after their run while the Stars have dropped two in a row. Those two teams square off Tuesday in Dallas.
10 Colorado (39-30-5) 14 The Avalanche are 6-1-1 in their past eight. In his last 11 starts dating to Feb. 22, Semyon Varlamov is 9-2-0 with a 1.35 goals-against average and .956 save percentage.
11 Ottawa (37-26-10) 11 Of course, everyone knew at the beginning of the year the Sens would be fighting for the second seed in the East with Ben Bishop in net the down the stretch.
12 Los Angeles (35-25-12) NR Remember when the Kings couldn't score? They have 32 goals in their past nine games, an average of 3.56 per contest. With Jon Quick in net, that's a lethal combination.
13 Boston (41-27-3) 12 After a home game against Toronto, a three-game road swing through San Jose, L.A. and Anaheim awaits. Getting away for a bit wouldn't be the worst thing for the Bruins right now.
14 Detroit (44-24-4) 10 SSince Nicklas Lidstrom left the lineup with a bone bruise, the Wings are 3-5-1. It's perhaps a scary glimpse into what life will be like when Lidstrom finally decides to call it a career.
15 Florida (35-23-13) NR
Their current four-game win streak has the Panthers looking like a sure bet for their first playoff berth in 12 years. They are seven points clear of ninth-place Buffalo.
16 San Jose (36-25-10) NR Welcome back, Sharks. They're 3-0-1 in their past four, and Marty Havlat had two goals in his second game back from his major hamstring injury. Are they waking up?
If you have any problems, questions, anger or praise for this list, you can let me know on Twitter: @davelozo

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