It was, indeed, a great night for hockey in Pittsburgh. Let’s recount the blessings:
- Most importantly, the Pens pulled out a 4-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils to elevate their season point total to 102 with two games remaining.
- The Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia Flyers lost 5-2 in Ottawa, keeping their point total at 103.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning, currently fifth in the East just behind the Penguins, lost 4-2 in Buffalo. They now trail the Pens by three points for the all-important home-ice advantage position.
- In tonight’s game between the Devils and Pens, New Jersey started Johan Hedberg in net in place of All-World Goalie and Penguin-Killer Martin Brodeur.
- The Pens opened the scoring with a power play goal. Yes, you read that correctly. The Pens actually scored on the power play. Don’t get excited, it only happens 15 percent of the time.
- Jordan Staal, who scored that power play goal, assisted on Chris Kunitz’s game-winner. The puck was taken out of circulation to serve as a present to Chris’ newborn child.
- Most importantly for Staal, he didn’t transform from hero to goat. With the Pens in cruise control and the game on ice, Staal took an ill-advised penalty by tripping Ilya Kovalchuk with just 1:41 remaining.
- Pascal Dupuis scored twice, including an empty-netter that eased Staal’s mind.
- Pittsburgh’s top-billed penalty kill was successful on both of its opportunities.
- Marc-Andre Fleury was exceptional once again, making 22 saves, many of a difficult variety.
- Although the Pens’ two remaining games on the regular-season schedule are road games, they are certainly winnable on the Island and in Hot-lanta.
- Philly finishes at Buffalo and at home against the Islanders. The Sabres are still fighting for a playoff spot.
- The Lightning finishes their season at home against Florida and at Carolina.