(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Penguins can lock up the top seed in the
Eastern Conference on Friday night as they look to deal the Boston Bruins a
season-high fourth straight setback.
The Penguins sit atop the East with 66 points and five games to play. They
have a game in hand over the second-seeded Montreal Canadiens, who have 59
points, and the Bruins can also mathematically catch Pittsburgh as they are
nine points off the pace but have six games remaining.
However, any type of victory over Boston tonight would give Pittsburgh home-
ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Bruins, meanwhile, are two points behind the Canadiens for first place in
the Northeast Division and will use one of their two games in hand over idle
The Penguins come in as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, having won five
straight and 20 of their past 22. That comes despite Sidney Crosby having
missed the last seven games due to a fractured jaw, James Neal out the past
four with a concussion and defenseman Paul Martin sidelined with a wrist
Evgeni Malkin has also sat out Pittsburgh's past two games with an upper body
issue and is doubtful for tonight.
Still, the Pens rolled past the Montreal Canadiens 6-4 on Wednesday thanks to
a host of in-season pickups. Brenden Morrow had two goals and an assist,
Jarome Iginla scored and had a helper and Douglas Murray also lit the lamp.
All three players were acquired by the Penguins in trades during the season
and Iginla reached a milestone with his power-play goal as he became the 58th
player in NHL history to reach 1,100 career points.
"When you're working hard good things usually happen," Morrow said. "We're all
working hard and creating some bounces for ourselves."
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31 shots in the victory.
The Bruins will play their second game since Monday's tragic bombings at the
Boston Marathon. After that night's game versus the Ottawa Senators was
postponed, Boston played host to the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night and
dropped an emotional 3-2 shootout decision.
The game began with a moment of silence several other events were staged at TD
Garden to honor the victims and city, including longtime Boston anthem singer
Rene Rancourt leading the crowd in a rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner."
Following the shootout, both teams took to the ice and raised their sticks to
the crowd in a final salute of the night.
"We're still grieving with everyone in Boston," said Bruins head coach Claude
Julien. "Through it all, our guys really wanted to battle and make it happen.
The main goal was to go out there and play well for the cause."
Despite the loss, the point gained did allow the Bruins to clinch their sixth
straight playoff berth.
Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille each posted a goal and an assist while Anton
Khudobin made 30 stops as the Bruins lost their third straight for the first
time this season.
Boston also picked up the loss despite forwards Patrice Bergeron and Brad
Marchand making returns from concussions. The duo have combined for 64 points
The Bruins, who are also scheduled to host the Florida Panthers on Sunday, are
8-1-2 in their last 11 games at home, but have lost five straight as the host
to the Penguins.
Pittsburgh has also taken five straight and 10 of its last 13 versus Boston
The Sports Network