The Penguins took a major step toward locking up home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs while also inching closer to Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division lead following a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils in the final regular-season game in the brand-new CONSOL Energy Center.
Both the Lightning and Flyers lost tonight, and with Pittsburgh’s win the Penguins now have a 47-25-8 record for 102 points – three more than Tampa Bay and one behind Philadelphia. All three teams have two games remaining on their respective schedules.
The Pens and Devils locked up in their typical affair – tight-checking, limited ice, low number of scoring chances. But it was the Penguins that made enough plays and converted their chances to pull out the victory.
Pascal Dupuis scored two goals (one shorthanded), Jordan Staal recorded a power-play goal and an assist and Chris Kunitz scored a goal just hours after his wife Maureen gave birth to a daughter – Payton Marie Kunitz.
The Penguins finish up the regular season on the road. A two-game swing will take them to Long Island (Friday) and Atlanta (Sunday) as the team tries to win the division crown.
Chris Kunitz and his wife Maureen gave birth to a daughter – Payton Marie Kunitz – this morning. But he was back in the lineup a few hours later and was instrumental in the Penguins’ win.
The Penguins had a 2-1 lead entering the third period. Just 1:31 into that final frame, Kunitz made a sweet move with the puck to slide it under the outstretched stick of goaltender Johan Hedberg. The score gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead and put them in control of the contest.
He finished the contest with a game-high four shots and a hit in 18:25 minutes of ice time. Kunitz also logged 1:21 worth of shorthanded time for Pittsburgh.
The Devils tied the game with late second-period tally from David Steckel to even the score at 1-1. But the Penguins responded to quickly re-grab the lead, momentum and control of the game.
Pittsburgh crashed the net on a four-on-two rush. Maxime Talbot took a shot and Pascal Dupuis was there on the doorstep to slam in the rebound through the legs of goalie Johan Hedberg. The score gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead just 1:03 after New Jersey had tied the game.
The Penguins never lost control of the game after that point. New Jersey spent the rest of the game playing catch up, while Pittsburgh kept them at a distance.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pascal Dupuis had two goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins moved closer to clinching home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
Jordan Staal and Chris Kunitz also scored for the Penguins, who won their regular season home finale to move three points ahead of fifth-place Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference standings with two games to play. The Lightning lost 4-2 at Buffalo.
Pittsburgh has 102 points, one less than Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia, which lost 5-2 at Ottawa on Tuesday. The Penguins remained three points behind conference-leading Washington, which won 3-2 in a shootout at Toronto.
- The Penguins close out the first regular season at CONSOL Energy Center with a 25-14-2 record for 52 points. Pittsburgh's 25 home wins are the most in the Eastern Conference, and second-most overall in the NHL (26, Vancouver).
- Pascal Dupuis scored two goals in the contest, including one shorthanded in the closing minutes of the game to seal the victory. Dupuis has now scored three goals over his last two games. He also had three shots and three blocked shots against the Devils.
- Chris Kunitz scored his 23rd goal of the season. He is two shy from tying a career high of 25 set in 2006-07 with Anaheim.
- Following the game the Penguins players came back on the ice to take part in “Fan Appreciation Night.” Each player took off their game-worn jersey and gave them to specially selected fans.
- Forward Alex Kovalev played in his 1,300th career NHL game.
- The Penguins learned that center Dustin Jeffrey has a torn ACL and will require six months of rehab.
#1. Chris Kunitz
Left Wing - 14
#2. Jordan Staal
Center - 11
#3. Brian Rolston
Right Wing - 12
Author: Sam Kasan