PITTSBURGH 4 – WINNIPEG 2
In a sentence that could have been written in December, the Penguins have clinched the Metropolitan Division with a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets tonight.
Sidney Crosby had two assists, Paul Martin (3) and Brian Gibbons (5) scored third period goals as the Penguins outscored Winnipeg 2-0 in the third period.
Beau Bennett (3) and Craig Adams (5) also scored in the win. Marc Andre Fleury made 13 saves for his 37th win of the season.
Pittsburgh with the win improved to 49-33-5, 103 pts, on the season. The Penguins are 4-1-1 in their last six road games. The Penguins remain locked in the No. 2 seed and would need to win their remaining five games and have Boston lose their remaining five games to earn the No. 1 seed in the conference.
Paul Martin made an immediate impact in returning to the lineup, scoring the game winning goal, a power play marker at 7:42 of the third period to break a 2-2 tie. James Neal made a great feed setting up Martin for the one-timer goal from the slot. Martin played a team-high 23:46.
— In a bit of an experimenting stage, one change Bylsma made tonight was moving Beau Bennett up to the top line on Sidney Crosby’s right wing. At the end of the day it remains to be seen what direction the coaching staff goes with in the playoffs but there’s no question that Bennett is a top-6 forward and you have to maximize his ability by playing him with skilled forwards. Many forget that prior to Bennett’s injury, he was moved up to Sidney Crosby’s right wing as Pascal Dupuis was struggling at even strength.
Bylsma has strongly hinted that he feels Bennett is better suited to play the left side but the eye the test says Bennett looks best on his natural side at right wing. One tidbit on Bennett tonight. He only played 4 shifts in the third period and didn’t take one shift in the final nine minutes of the period. He led all Penguins forwards with 4 hits.
— A recipe for winning the Penguins would sure like to see on a consistent basis in the playoffs that they got tonight. Excellent specials teams play and depth scoring in getting goals from Adams and Gibbons.
— Sidney Crosby took a frustration (interference) penalty at the mid-point of third period with the Penguins holding a 3-2 lead. Crosby was pushed around during the shift by Dustin Byfuglien that led to the unnecessary interference penalty by Crosby on Blake Wheeler. With the playoffs around the corner, it was the type of penalty the Penguins have to get out of their system. The Penguins, though, came up big on the PK and killed off the Crosby penalty and got some luck as the refs missed a delay of game penalty on Tanner Glass that would have given the Jets a 5-on-3 power play.
— Dan Bylsma earned his 250th career win, becoming the quickest coach in NHL history to win 250 games (396 games).
— Pittsburgh outshot Winnipeg 21-15.
— The Jets were credited with 19 giveaways, Pittsburgh 14.