The Penguins just keep on rolling.
Pittsburgh topped the defending Stanley Cup champions with a 5-2 win Sunday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center to extend its winning streak to nine games and sweeping a four-game homestand.
The line of Chris Kunitz
(1G), Evgeni Malkin
(3A) and James Neal
(1G-2A) led the way with a combined seven points.
The Pens’ nine-game winning streak is the longest for the team this season. During their nine-game winning streak, the Pens have outscored their opponents 33-13 in regulation.
The Pens finished with a perfect home stretch of four games or more for the first time since going 5-0 Feb. 2-11, 1999 at Mellon Arena.
“It’s all about a team game, the way we hold onto the puck in the offensive zone,” said Pascal Dupuis
, who scored a goal in the contest. “A little cliché, but we play our game. So we basically play in the O-zone, hold onto the puck, bring on as much pressure as you can to the cage. Marc-Andre (Fleury) has been really big for us. It makes for an explosive flow to it right now.”
The Pens are now just two points behind the New York Rangers for first place in the Eastern Conference standings (the Rangers host the New York Islanders later tonight at Madison Square Garden). Pittsburgh’s winning streak has allowed them to cut a 10-point deficit into two.
The Pens will play at MSG against the Rangers Thursday. The two clubs will meet for the final time this season April 5 in Pittsburgh.
“We’ve inched closer, but we expect the Rangers to win hockey games, too,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We’re going to have to not only tie them, but surpass them. We still have to win on Thursday and later on in the year.”More on the winning streak here.
It was a milestone day for a couple of Pens. James Neal
went hard into the near corner of the Boston zone and engaged a Bruin. That freed the puck for Evgeni Malkin
to pluck out from their skates. Malkin sent a pass to Matt Niskanen
at the near point while Neal beelined for the net.
Niskanen’s shot zigged and zagged through Neal’s screen to beat goaltender Tim Thomas.
Malkin and Neal received assists on the play. For Malkin, it was his 500th career point – making him the 17th Russian-born player to hit the mark. For Neal, it was his 200th career point.
“Yeah, what do we do? Do we cut the puck in half?” Neal said after the game about who would get the milestone puck. “’Geno’ can have it. He’s 500. That’s a big number.”
That assist also pulled Malkin into a tie with Syl Apps on the Penguins’ all-time scoring list. Malkin would add two more assists in the game to take sole possession of eighth place in franchise history with 502 points. More on Malkin’s milestone here.
The Pens were clinging to a 4-2 lead in the third period as the Bruins were coming hard and pressuring to cut into the lead.
Pittsburgh sealed the win when Pascal Dupuis
took a pass from Jordan Staal
for a breakaway. Dupuis, who created the chance with his speed, went backhand to make it a 5-2 contest with 3:53 to play.
The assist for Staal extended his career-high assist/point streak to eight games. He’s totaled three goals and assists for 11 points over that span.
ODDS AND ENDS
Defenseman Deryk Engelland
returned to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. He finished the game with 19:58 minutes of ice time, two hits and two blocked shots.
The Bruins replaced goalie Tim Thomas after the first period. He gave up three goals on 10 shots. Recently signed Marty Turco entered the contest and allowed two goals on 22 shots.
The Bruins were banged up in the game, losing Adam McQuaid and Max Sauve in the contest. Patrice Bergeron missed basically the rest of the game after blocking a shot in the opening minute of the second period.
Author: Sam Kasan