Ray Shero has a plan. Always has. This year, the plan called for acquisitions of depth, grit and veteran savvy. The plan was made possible by a one-time glut of cap space and Mario's mandate to pursue a championship. So when Brenden Morrow came to Pittsburgh in late March (and was then promptly overshadowed by the 11th-hour heist of Jarome Iginla), everyone involved seemed to understand that Morrow would be a piece, not the piece, of a team the Penguins hope will reach the Stanley Cup finals.
So much for that plan.
When the Pens finally get themselves right, Morrow will go back to being another piece in a stupidly talented line-up, presumably on the third line where he and center Brandon Sutter are suddenly the pairing you don't break up.
In the meantime, with the team's three best offensive forwards on the shelf, Morrow is making good on Shero's bet that depth, grit and veteran savvy is what a team needs to survive the grind of the NHL playoffs, scoring two goals, adding a helper and playing his part in the Pens' 6-4 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens.
Oh, and he tangled with PK Subban.
Morrow recorded his second-straight two-goal, three-point game in the win over Montreal, giving the veteran winger eight points in his last four games. Jarome Iginla, Brandon Sutter and Douglas Murray also scored for the Pens, who have now won five straight and 20 of their last 22 games.
With the victory, Pittsburgh now needs just three points in its final six games to lock up home-ice advantage through the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Only Montreal and Boston have a shot to catch the Penguins for the East's top seed, though the Pens essentially put the race on ice with their win over the Habs. The Pens now own a nine-point lead over both Northeast clubs in the East with just under two weeks to play.
Pittsburgh's win was their third in three chances against the Canadiens, and they'll go for the season sweep of Boston on Friday. Should the Pens bounce Boston, they'll have gone a combined 9-0-0 against the current 2nd, 3rd and 4th seeds in the East.
Brian Gionta, Alex Galchenyuk, Andrei Markov and Gabriel Dumont scored for the Canadiens, who have lost three straight to fall to 4th in the East and have allowed 18 goals in their last three contests.
Some notes from the win:
- Douglas Murray scored in the third period on a pinballing wrist shot from the point. It was his first with the Pens, first in 2013 and first in three years.
- Marc-Andre Fleury moved into a tie for wins among NHL goaltenders with his 22nd of the season.
- The win was the Pens' 20th in their last 22 games and 33rd of the year. They've now had winning streaks of five, five and fifteen games this season, and have yet to lose more than two games in a row.
- Kris Letang had three assists in the win, including a helper on Iginla's first-period PP goal. Letang has four assists in three games since returning from a lower-body injury, and the Pens PP has scored at better than 35 percent with him back on the point.
- With three more victories, the Pens can become the only Eastern Conference team to reach 70 points this season.
Pittsburgh can take another step closer to first place in Friday's match against the Boston Bruins.