The Pittsburgh Penguins are officially NHL’s hottest team.
Escaping with a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders Friday night, the Pens extended their winning streak to 11 games and remain atop the Eastern Conference with a record of 24-8-0 (48 points).
This streak is also staying alive while the team is without superstar forward Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang. Â It really goes to show Pittsburgh’s receiving contributions from everybody, and not just their stars.
Third line center Brandon Sutter potted the game-winning goal 1:46 into the third period on a beautiful backhand feed from Matt Cooke across the goal mount, giving him his first point since he scored two against Boston on March 12th.
But Pittsburgh without a doubt couldn’t have won without Tomas Vokoun, whoÂ was phenomenal.
Stopping 33 of 35 shots, the 36-year-old goaltender was able to provide a steady glove and a handful of leg saves to improve his overall record to 8-3-0.
Vokoun now has improved his goals against average to 2.80 and his save percentage to .907. Â He also was able to notch an assist on Pascal Dupuis’s empty-netter 19:59 into the third period.
Sidney Crosby extended his points streak to three games with his two helpers and he now improves his total points to 52 (13G, 39A). Â Crosby remains the NHL leader in points.
Chris Kunitz registered another goal, his 19th as a matter of fact. Â And because he tallied another goal, Kunitz now is just two behind Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the league lead.
On the season, Kunitz now has a total of 41 points (19G, 22A), which is second in the NHL behind his linemate (Crosby.)
Joe Vitale has found his scoring touch of late as he gave the Pens their first goal of the game. Â Beating Nabokov glove side, Vitale buried his second in three games, improving his points total to four with two of each.
Having already mentioned Pascal Dupuis scored on an empty-net, he also was able to put together an assist as well, giving him 23 points (15G, 8A) for the season.
The other skaters who showed up on the stat sheet were forwards Craig Adams and James Neal, who each had one assist on the night.
When the Pens are finally able to start Malkin and Letang, the rest of the league might make the Chicago Blackhawks story an afterthought, because Pittsburgh could potentially run the table from here on out.
Both players were able to skate Friday, but were held out of the lineup as a precaution.
It was the right move because now the team doesn’t play till Sunday against Philadephia, in which they’ll need them at full health for that game.
However, if something should happen to either of them where they aren’t a hundred percent healthy yet, expect the team to play without them once again.
Pens got the Flyers Sunday in Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m.