The Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate as New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen (51) skates away during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, April 2, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Associated Press

Crosby picks up 600th assist, Pens clinch playoff spot with 5-0 win over Isles

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been forced to deal with plenty of injuries lately, but that hasn’t slowed them down one bit.

Prior to today’s game, the Pens announced that Marc-Andre Fleury was out indefinitely because of a concussion. Instead of crumbling, Pittsburgh turned in a dominant 5-0 performance against the New York Islanders. What makes it even more impressive is that Pittsburgh was already without Olli Maatta and Evgeni Malkin.

It was a night of firsts for the Pens. Oskar Sundqvist opened the scoring with his first NHL goal. He can thank Isles goalie J-F Berube for that one (to watch the play, click here), and rookie goalie Matt Murray made 24 saves to record his first career shutout.

The Penguins followed up Sundqvist’s goal by scoring four more goals (Patrick Hornqvist, Matt Cullen, Phil Kessel, Tom Kuhnhackl).

Captain Sidney Crosby registered his 600th career assist on Hornqvist’s goal.

Crosby’s been red-hot of late:

The win clinches a playoff spot for the Penguins, which means their first round pick in 2016 will go to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Kessel trade.

Here’s an updated look at the Metropolitan Division standings after the Flyers and Penguins both won this afternoon:

Metro updated

The Islanders and Flyers currently own the two Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference.

Crosby, Dubnyk, Burns named NHL’s three stars of the month

Sidney Crosby
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Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk and San Jose Sharks long-bearded defenseman Brent Burns have been named the NHL’s three stars for the month of March.

Crosby led all players with 14 assists and 21 points in 16 games to power the Penguins (44-25-8, 96 points) to a 12-4-0 March, tied for their second-most wins in any calendar month in franchise history. He registered at least one point in 15 of his 16 appearances, including a 12-game point streak to open the month (Feb. 29 — March 20: 6-14–20).

Dubnyk went 10-2-1 with a 2.06 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and one shutout in 14 appearances to propel the Wild (38-29-11, 87 points) to a 10-4-1 March, one win shy of the franchise record for any calendar month.

Burns shared second place in the NHL in both assists (13) and points (19) in 16 games to guide the Sharks (43-29-6, 92 points) to a 9-7-0 March and their 11th playoff berth in the last 12 seasons. He collected at least one point in 12 of his 16 contests, including seven multi-point performances (as well as three straight to close the month).

As impressive as Crosby was last month, the Penguins as a team have been a roll of late with 10 wins in their last 11 games, taking over second in the Metropolitan Division. And with the playoffs around the corner, they could be a dangerous team to meet in the opening round.

Crosby scores OT winner, Penguins close the gap between themselves and the Rangers

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The New York Rangers held not one, but two leads in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately for the Blue Shirts, they weren’t able to hold on for the win, as they fell 3-2 in OT.

Eric Staal scored both of New York’s goals in regulation, while the Pens answered both times with goals by Matt Cullen and Phil Kessel.

To watch Staal’s first goal and Cullen’s goal, click here.

To watch Kessel’s goal, click here

Neither team was able to pull away in the third period, but Pittsburgh had the advantage going into overtime because Derick Brassard took a high-sticking penalty with under two seconds remaining in regulation. The Penguins weren’t able to cash in on the power play.

After the penalty expired, Kris Letang turned the puck over deep in his own territory, right in front of Marc-Andre Fleury‘s net. Luckily for Pittsburgh, Mats Zuccarello‘s shot toward goal went wide (he’ll kick himself for missing that one).

A few moments after Zuccarello missed, Sidney Crosby deflected a Letang shot behind Henrik Lundqvist. Game over.

It’s a huge win for the Penguins, as they’re now three points back (with a game in hand) of the Rangers for second in the Metropolitan Division. Whoever finishes second will have home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Here’s an updated look at the Metro Division standings:

Metro

Crosby, Quick, Monahan named NHL’s three stars of the week

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (c) celebrates his empty net goal at 19:21 of the third period against the New York Rangers and is joined by Bryan Rust #17 (l) and Tom Kuhnhackl #34 (r) at Madison Square Garden on March 13, 2016 in New York City. The Penguins defeated the Rangers 4-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick and Calgary center Sean Monahan have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Mar. 20, the league announced on Monday.

More:

Crosby shared the League lead with 2-5—7 in four outings to help the Penguins (40-24-8, 88 points) extend their winning streak to six games and move into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Quick went 3-0-0 with a 1.32 goals-against average, .953 save percentage and one shutout to help the Pacific Division-leading Kings (44-22-5, 93 points) post four victories and clinch their sixth playoff berth in the past seven seasons.

Monahan paced the NHL with five goals and tied for the League lead with seven points in four games to lift the Flames (31-35-6, 68 points) to a 3-0-1 record.

And heeeere come the Penguins. Led by Crosby’s scoring exploits, Pittsburgh currently holds home-ice advantage in the opening playoff round, and is now just one point back of Florida for the second in the overall Eastern Conference standings.

Crosby also now sits third in the NHL in scoring with 76 points, trailing only Jamie Benn (80) and Patrick Kane (92).

Crosby extends point streak to 12 games; Pens win sixth straight

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The Pittsburgh Penguins kept rolling on Sunday when they downed the Washington Capitals, 6-2. Sidney Crosby is a big reason why they’ve been so successful of late.

Despite getting off to such a slow start, Crosby is currently third in NHL scoring with 75 points. He’s only trailing ‘Hawks forward Patrick Kane and Stars forward Jamie Benn. On Sunday, Crosby extended his point streak to 12 games with his assist on Trevor Daley‘s first period goal. He picked another assist on Chris Kunitz‘s goal in the third frame.

The absence of Evgeni Malkin hasn’t slowed Crosby down either. The Pens are 5-0-0 since Malkin came out of the lineup and Crosby has 10 points during that span.

This game had a distinct playoff feel to it. There were nice goals, weird goals, big hits and some nastiness.

–Bryant Rust scored a nice goal (click here to watch).

Jason Chimera scored a weird goal (click here to watch).

Mike Weber was tossed for boarding Rust (click here to watch).

The win moves Pittsburgh into second place in the Metropolitan division, but it came at a price. The Penguins lost Brian Dumoulin to injury after he was flattened by Alex Ovechkin.

The Pens have won six games in a row.

Every hockey fan should cross their fingers and hope these two teams meet at some point this postseason.