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100 Points and Counting: Pens Beat Panthers 4-2

Panthers Blog: Litterbox Cats

If you told me during the first week of February that the Penguins were going to reach the 100-point mark this season I would've said you were crazy.  Playoffs?  Yeah, I could see that.  But 100 points without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin would've been brushed off as crazy talk.

Well believe it.  With the Pens beating Florida 4-2 Saturday night, Pittsburgh reached 100 points for the second straight season and seventh time in franchise history, allowing them to still hold on to fourth place in the Eastern Conference with only three games remaining.

With Tampa Bay beating Minnesota 3-1, there's still no guarantee that home ice will be in Pittsburgh's favor in the postseason, but at the least the odds are looking better.  There is NO reason why the Pens can't close out with three more wins against teams that are not playoff bound.  But stranger things have happened.

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but a sweep through the final stretch of the season would give the Penguins 106 points, ultimately standing as a Pittsburgh-best since the lockout.  The team reached 105 in 2006-07 and 102 in 2007-08.  They had "only" 99 points the year they won the Cup.

How about Zbynek Michalek and his third period goal to officially put the lead in Pittsburgh's hands?  Or Craig Adams' empty-netter that closed it out for good, raising his season to four goals.  Quick did you know - prior to the 2010-11 season, Adams had zero goals in 91 games for the Pens.  This year alone he has four in 76 and another nine assists.  While it might be far off from his career-best 10 goals and 21 points with Carolina in 2006, let's take a minute to give the Harvard man a pat on the back.

Even Tyler Kennedy reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career with an early, first-period goal to kick things off.  Add in his 22 assists and he's well beyond his previous career-best of 35 points in 2009.  Evidence would suggest Kennedy is also revving himself up for the postseason, as he picked up 10 of his 42 points in March alone. 

Pittsburgh is back at it Tuesday against the Devils.

The Lightning hits the road tomorrow to take on the Blackhawks.  A win could pull them within one point of the Pens, leaving both teams with three games on the schedule.  Go Hawks?