Brandon Sutter (11) and Brenden Morrow (11) each scored twice and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-4 on Wednesday night.
Jarome Iginla (11) and Douglas Murray (1) also scored in the win and Marc Andre Fleury made 31 saves to record his 22nd win of the season.
Morrow was the story of the game and continues to shine over his last five to six games, posting back to back three point games with 2 goals and an assist tonight. Morrow in the midst of a four game point streak has 5 goals and 3 assists during that span and he’s really become that Gary Roberts type of player the Penguins lacked. He’s not only producing offensively but has been a physical presence and pest, dropping the gloves in the third period with PK Subban.
Murray’s third period tally was his first goal in 147 games.
The Penguins playing without Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Evgeni Malkin and Paul Martin, inched closer to clinching the No. 1 seed, moving nine points ahead of the Canadiens and Bruins who lost in a shootout to the Sabres.
For the first 30 minutes of this game, it was really Men vs Boys and the transformation of the Penguins playing a punishing style of play where they wear the opposition down continues to be on the display thanks to the personnel moves over the last four weeks by GM Ray Shero.
Douglas Murray and Brenden Morrow have been two big pieces of that.
The Penguins were credited with 33 hits, lead by Brooks Orpik who had a team-high 5 and the Penguins 4th line of Tanner Glass (4 hits), Joe Vitale (4 hits) and Craig Adams (4 hits) were extremely physical.
“I thought we came out really strong and played physical,” said defenseman Douglas Murray who had 3 hits and 5 blocked shots.
This is probably the most difficult Penguins team to play against since the 2008 team that lost in the Cup Finals but personnel wise was probably the most complete Penguins team top to bottom of the Sidney Crosby era until now.
The current Eastern Conference also resembles the 2007-2008 season where come April it became so clear that the Penguins were such a superior team than the rest and they proved it in the post-season as the Penguins steam rolled through the first three rounds going 12-2 before losing to the Red Wings in the Finals.
With the Canadiens slipping down the stretch and the Bruins just not looking all there, the Washington Capitals could very well become the Penguins biggest threat in a potential Eastern Conference Finals series were the two teams to meet.
EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS
1. *Pittsburgh Penguins – 5 Games Remaining | 33-10-0, 66 pts
2. *Boston Bruins – 6 Games Remaining | 26-11-5, 57 pts
3. *Washington Capitals – 5 Games Remaining | 24-17-2, 50 pts
4. Montreal Canadiens – 5 Games Remaining | 26-12-5, 57 pts
5. Toronto Maple Leafs – 5 Games Remaining | 24-14-5, 53 pts
6. Ottawa Senators – 6 Games Remaining | 22-14-6, 50 pts
7. New York Islanders – 5 Games Remaining | 22-16-5, 49 pts
8. New York Rangers – 6 Games Remaining | 21-17-4, 46 pts
IN THE HUNT
9. Winnipeg Jets – 5 Games Remaining | 22-19-2, 46 pts
10. Buffalo Sabres – 4 Games Remaining | 19-19-6, 44 pts
11: Philadelphia Flyers – 5 Games Remaining | 19-21-3, 41 pts
12. New Jersey Devils – 6 Games Remaining | 15-17-10, 40 pts
PRESSURE CONTINUES TO MOUNT ON RANGERS
The New York Rangers continue to lack any kind of consistency in their game, suffering a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last night. More bad news for the Rangers, the Islanders won Tuesday night to get a little breathing room moving three points ahead of the Rangers for the No. 7 seed and the Winnipeg Jets move into a tie with Rangers in points at 46.
The Buffalo Sabres 3-2 shootout win over the Bruins tonight puts them back in the hunt moving two points behind the Rangers. Pressure is mounting on New York.
The Rangers, though, still control their destiny for a playoff spot with a game in hand on the Jets, two in hand on the Sabres, and with 10 days remaining in the regular season, odds for now point to the Rangers or Jets being the Penguins first round opponent in a 1-8 matchup.
NYR Remaining Schedule: vs Florida, @ Buffalo, vs New Jersey, @ Florida, @ Carolina, vs New Jersey
WPG Remaining Schedule: vs Carolina, vs New York Islanders, @ Buffalo, @ Washington, vs Montreal