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game recap

Penguins clinch playoff berth, defeat Red Wings

Kessel scores twice for Pittsburgh, which makes postseason for 13th straight time

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

Kessel pots loose puck for PPG

DET@PIT: Kessel cleans up rebound for power-play goal

Phil Kessel gets good position and is able to bury the rebound following Sidney Crosby's shot on the power play, giving the Penguins a 2-1 lead

  • 01:06 •

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 13th straight season with a 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday.

The Penguins (44-26-11), whose playoff streak is the longest active in the NHL and their history, lead the Carolina Hurricanes by two points for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh is two points behind the New York Islanders for second place.

 

[WATCH: All Red Wings vs. Penguins highlights]

 

"It's difficult to make the playoffs," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "It's hard. There's a lot of good teams. There's going to be good teams that don't make the playoffs. Every year there is. With the parity in the League, it's not an easy feat year in and year out.

"I just think the fact that this organization has had the long-standing success that they've had is a reflection of their leadership and their professionalism. ... It's a privilege to work for this organization." 

Video: DET@PIT: Kessel beats Howard with wrister for second

Phil Kessel had two goals and an assist, Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists, and Matt Murray made 33 saves for Pittsburgh, which split a home-and-home with the Red Wings and is 11-4-2 in its past 17 games.

Matt Puempel scored, and Jimmy Howard made 43 saves for Detroit (32-39-10), which had its season-long six-game winning streak end and has been eliminated from playoff contention.

"I didn't think our best players were nearly as good as they've been," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "They've been excellent through this stretch. What you'd like to have happen when that is the case, you'd like other people to step up. ... They weren't bad. They just weren't nearly as good."

Puempel gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead on a power play at 7:35 of the first period, redirecting Filip Hronek's point shot. It was his first goal since Jan. 23, 2017 (19 games), when he scored for the New York Rangers against the Los Angeles Kings.

Video: DET@PIT: Penguins clinch playoff berth in 4-1 win

"It's always nice to score a goal," Puempel said. "When you get your first with a specific team, it's nice to get it out of the way. ... It seems like everybody's having a good time. Everyone's having fun. I think that's important when you're playing this game. It's obviously a privilege. It's a lot of fun."

Jake Guentzel tied it 1-1 on a one-timer for his 39th goal at 10:43, and Kessel put the Penguins ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal at the left post at 18:18.

Kessel scored his second on a snap shot glove side off a face-off win by Evgeni Malkin to make it 3-1 at 15:32 of the second period.

Crosby extended the lead to 4-1 at 6:36 of the third period, tapping in a rebound in the crease after Kessel's initial shot hit the post and ricocheted off Howard's back on a power play. It was Crosby's first goal since March 12 (11 games).

"It's not easy [to make the playoffs]," Crosby said. "You can see it comes down to Game 81. There are a lot of things that happen over the course of the year, so it's difficult. It's a tight league. You've got to earn it. So it's a good feeling, but we've got a game left here and we've got to take advantage of that, get some points and get ready."

Video: DET@PIT: Crosby pots loose puck for power-play goal

 

They said it

"They're a good team. Don't take anything away from them, but we have to be a lot better than that. It doesn't matter what lineup you have, we still have to be better than we were tonight. It starts with myself. I have to be a lot better." -- Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall

"It's a good feeling [to clinch a playoff berth]. We could've got it last game, I think. But we came out here, we knew we had to get a win, get it done and move on. ... I think we've got a good team here. We'll see who we play coming up, and we'll give it our all." -- Penguins forward Phil Kessel

 

Need to know

Howard played his 515th NHL game, passing Frank Brimsek for seventh among U.S.-born goalies. ... Red Wings defenseman Madison Bowey played his 100th NHL game. ... Malkin returned after missing eight games with an upper-body injury. He had one assist in 18:50 of ice time. ... Penguins defenseman Kris Letang had five shots and was plus-1 in 25:52 of ice time after missing four games because of an upper-body injury. ... Pittsburgh forward Matt Cullen played his 1,515th NHL game, passing Steve Yzerman for 19th in NHL history. ... Murray made his NHL career-high 10th straight start and has started 19 of Pittsburgh's past 20 games (11-4-4).

 

What's next

Red Wings: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-D, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Penguins: Host the New York Rangers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, MSG, NHL.TV)

Video: Penguins clinch playoff berth in win over Red Wings

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