After losing big to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to bounce back and return the favor on Tuesday.
Thanks in part to a two-goal effort from Sidney Crosby and two more points from Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins were able to pick up a huge 7-3 win to move back into sole possession of first place in the East Division. At least temporarily.
The win gives the Penguins 73 points on the season and a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the top spot. The Capitals could regain that top spot on Wednesday with a win over the New York Rangers.
The Boston Bruins (who lost in overtime to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday) are also still very much in play for that top spot as the regular season heads into the home stretch. Both the Bruins and Capitals have two games in hand on the Penguins, but the Penguins have the by far easier schedule with only the Buffalo Sabres remaining.
This was an important response for the Penguins after they laid an egg across the board in Monday’s game. Perhaps the biggest response came from the top line of Crosby, Bryan Rust, and Jake Guentzel. They had a particularly bad showing on Monday (that line was a minus-4) and has not really looked right for about a week now. But they came to play on Tuesday and helped drive the offense. Crosby added an assist to go with his two goals, while Guentzel finished with a goal and two assists.
The Penguins had a little bit of an injury scare in the middle of the game when Rust had to briefly leave the game after he was tripped in the middle of the ice. He has become one of their most impactful players given his play in all three zones and his versatility, but he was able to return for the third period. The Penguins are already playing without Mike Matheson, Brandon Tanev, and Evan Rodrigues so losing another player would not have been ideal this close to the playoffs.