The Pittsburgh Penguins jumped into a two point lead in the Atlantic with a commanding 7-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. Evgeni Malkin recorded a two goal night, while recent newcomer Marian Hossa racked up a three assist-three point night in the trounce over NJ. Future Hall of Fame netminder Martin Brodeur was pulled four goals into his 70th start of the season, to be replaced by perpetual NHL backup Kevin Weekes.
Marc-Andre Fleury was only one goal away from a shutout, with the only goal of the night coming on an absolutely incredible shot from NJ's Brian Gionta. Gionta somehow managed to fire on Fleury amidst a mid-air pass from John Madden, beating Fleury top shelf to even the score at one. The tie was quickly seperated with a Pittsburgh six-goal unanswered attack in the second and third period.
The Montreal Canadiens pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins, enabling them to single-handedly control first place in the Eastern Conference by one point (94). Pittsburgh, only one point behind at 93, took a Division lead over New Jersey as they head into the second half of a home and home series against the Devils Tuesday night.
Pittsburgh native Ryan Malone fell short of a hometown hat trick, but still pulled out a helpful two point-two goal night.
[EDIT] I meant to type this last night but it slipped my mind: This is the third, seven goal performance by the Pens this month alone. Their March record stands at 7-3 as they now have seven more games to defend their Division lead. [/EDIT]
The Penguins return to NJ for the last time of the season on Tuesday night. The puck drops at 7:00.