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Pens Points: Devil of a Game

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Pens light the lamp seven times in unusually high scoring victory over Devils. Win clinches home ice for first round meeting with Blue Jackets. Malkin nearing comeback. No Letang =/= no hope.

Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

For the 9th time out of 11 consecutive playoff appearances the Penguins will begin their journey to the Stanley Cup on home ice. After logging their 50th win of the season in a 7-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils (in combination with a Blue Jackets loss to the Winnipeg Jets) the Pens locked up home ice advantage for their first round match-up with Columbus. An unusually high scoring game in Newark saw seven different Penguins’ score as they had to fight off multiple New Jersey comeback attempts. Matt Murray got the start in goal and despite struggling at times, made a handful of key signs to keep the Pens lead intact and allowed them to pull away in the final period. [Pensburgh]

When news broke on Wednesday that defenseman Kris Letang will miss the rest of the season to have surgery on a herniated disc in his neck many in the hockey world began to write the Pens eulogy. Without Letang a title defense may seem unlikely but no one said all hope was lost. [Pensburgh]

One thing that Pens proved this season, unlike past seasons, is they certainly can win without Letang in the lineup. The emergence of Justin Schultz and depth acquisitions at the trade deadline have allowed the team spread the workload up and down the blue line. [KDKA]

As a result of the Capitals beating the Rangers on Wednesday night, the Pens are now locked in a first round match-up with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Based on what we have seen this season the series will certainly live up to its billing. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Just in time for the said date with the Blue Jackets, it appears forward Evgeni Malkin is close to a return to action. Malkin even stated that he would like to play a game or two before the playoffs begin. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Echoing the sentiments of his fellow countrymen Alex Ovechkin, Malkin made it clear his desire to play in next year’s Olympics and hopes the Pens will allow him to go regardless of the league’s decision on the matter. [ESPN]

Using the same recipe as last season, the Pens fourth line is stepping up their offensive output, adding the depth scoring that is needed to make a deep playoff run. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

News and notes from around the NHL...

Wrapping up a second consecutive injury plagued season, it looks like Tampa Lightning forward Steven Stamkos will miss the remainder of the season. Stamkos never fully recovered from knee surgery in November. []

Never one to throw the book at an offender, the DoPS suspended Boston Bruins’ forward Brad Marchand for the final two games of the regular season. Marchand will be available for game one of the playoffs next week. [Boston Herald]

Locked in a tight scoring race and on the verge of leading the Edmonton Oilers to their first playoff berth in over a decade, Connor McDavid elevated his game to another level, making him the front runner for league MVP. [Puck Daddy]