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Apr 12, 2024 6:32 pm

Penguins look to increase points streak to 11 when they face Bruins

pittsburgh penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins are on some kind of roll yet are guaranteed nothing as they get ready to host one of the top teams in the NHL on Saturday, the Boston Bruins.

Seemingly out of the hunt for a playoff spot late last month, the Penguins (37-30-12) have stacked together a 10-game points streak (7-0-3). Thursday, they beat Detroit 6-5 in overtime to move into the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

That means if they win their final three games, they are guaranteed a spot in the postseason.

Not that that will be easy for Pittsburgh, just as this stretch hasn’t been easy. Many of the bugaboos that have plagued them all season — blowing leads is at the top of the list — are still there. The Penguins have just been able to overcome them lately.

“For some reason, we like to challenge ourselves a little bit more than maybe we should,” said Pittsburgh goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, who has stolen the net from prescribed No. 1 Tristan Jarry and has started every game during the 10-game point streak.

In the critical game against the Red Wings — the teams were tied in points going into the game — the Penguins blew a two-goal, third-period lead before Erik Karlsson’s overtime winner.

Assisting on Karlsson’s goal was team captain Sidney Crosby, who has been the catalyst for Pittsburgh’s surge.

He has eight goals, 20 points in the 10 games. Thursday, his goal and two assists lifted him into 10th place all-time in the NHL with 1,591 points and gave him 1,000 career assists.

“He’s a special player; he’s an even more special person,” Crosby’s linemate, Bryan Rust, said. “He’s just leading this team right now. We’re just all getting in line behind him and doing everything we can.”

Boston (46-18-15) long ago established itself as a top team and Stanley Cup contender this season, but there is still work to be done over the final three games.

The Bruins have not locked up the Atlantic Division title, and still have a shot at the Eastern Conference championship and even the Presidents’ Trophy.

That’s a lot of home-ice advantage on the line in addition to bragging rights.

Boston also wants to fine-tune its game heading into the playoffs. The team has been off since Tuesday when its four-game winning streak was snapped in a 4-1 loss to Carolina.

“I feel good” about the team, defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. “(Tuesday) was just one game.

“I think we’ve displayed how we can play. … I think we’ve been working toward our game.”

The Bruins also could settle on a go-to goalie, Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman, for the playoffs, or could continue with a rotation of the two.

“Why are we talking about two weeks from now?” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery asked coyly.

In the game in Pittsburgh, there seems to be a good chance that veteran forward Pat Maroon will make his Bruins debut. He was acquired from Minnesota at the trade deadline but has been recovering from back surgery.

Montgomery put the odds of Maroon playing at 75 percent.

Maroon could replace James van Riemsdyk, who has just one point in the past 19 games.

–Field Level Media

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