by Alycia King
The Penguins have gained a playoff berth each season since 2006-2007, and Thursday against the Nashville Predators, they clinched their spot for this year.
The game may have been called a Stanley Cup preview, but the Penguins drew all attention off of Nashville as they scored five goals on Pekka Rinne. The only headline coming out of the game that did not focus on Pittsburgh was about Alexander Radulov, who played his first game in the NHL in four years and scored the only goal against Marc-Andre Fleury.
Coming into the match up both Rinne and Fleury were chasing the 40-win mark. Fleury was one shot away from the shutout and earning that 40th win, which may have given him some of the attention he deserves around the league. Not many would deny that without Fleury, the Penguins would not be where they are this season. Even coach Dan Byslma gave credit to Fleury in his post-game press conference.
"This year, much like last year, his play in net is a reason why we have 46 wins right now and he has 40 wins," Bylsma said. "He's been outstanding."
The Penguins are still sitting in the fourth place in the playoff picture right now, but are only one point away from making the leap to top in the conference. What seemed like a huge gap of points to cover only weeks ago, now is only one game away. Not to mention that Pittsburgh will face the Rangers one more time April 5 at Consol Energy Center. The last nine games of the season will be the most important, even though the Penguins have clinched the playoff spot.
The Penguins also have a shot at winning the President's Trophy, so the possible 18 points could mean not only a better position for the playoffs, but also another piece of hardware for the high-scoring Pittsburgh team.
Alycia is a Senior Journalism major at IUP working toward a career in sports Public Relations.You can read more of her writings at Journey Hockey Career.