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Pens Tie for Division Lead, One Point Behind Conference

Tampa Bay's Mike Smith was no match for Pittsburgh's offense

With a 4-2 the win over Tampa Thursday night, the Penguins moved into a 91-point tie with New Jersey in the Atlantic Division and within striking distance of Montreal's scant 92-point Conference leading record.  The rest of the season poses as the ultimate division rivalry, as all Atlantic Division teams must face one another to close out the year.  In other words - it still anyone's game.

I've always believed in fairness, and therefore in light of proposing a hypothetical trade situation involving Ryan Whitney, I now feel obliged to congratulate him on a well-played and well-fought game.  His presence on D wasn't exactly dominating, but he found himself in the right place at the right time to make a play.  On Tuessday night that play would've involved a turnover.  But two days later Whitney is clearing the zone, finding his passing target with ease and racking up a point in the process on an assist to Malkin in the second.  

Speaking of Malkin - if you missed the game, you best find yourself some highlights from the game.  You will most certainly bare witness to one of the most beautiful backhand goals of the year.  

Unfortunately for the Pens Montreal pulled out a win tonight, in turn securing them the Conference lead.  For now...

Tomorrow's division games include Flyers vs Rangers and Islanders vs Devils.  The Philly/NYR game is a hard one to pick a team with.  On one hand, I don't want to see Philly even make the playoffs.  Yet on the other hand, I don't want to see the Rangers pick  up another point or two.  Worst case scenario is they both get a point in an OT or SO finish.

Islanders vs Devils should be a no-brainer, although it's most likely going to be a blowout.  With Dipietro done for the season, the Isles 2-8 in their last 10 games, currently sliding on a six-game losing streak.  In any case, my full support goes to the Islanders in root to a upset win of NJ.

The Penguins recharge on Friday and hit the ice again on Saturday against the Devils.  With any luck Jersey will be burnt out from a tiring game against the Islanders on Friday and make for an easier route for the Pens.  Having Big George back in the lineup now that his suspension is up should help as well.

Puck drops on Saturday in Pitt at 7:30.