Scramble for the Wild Card
This week, the Penguins actually kind of didn’t make me want to cry! They went up against four different teams, and this is how it went:
On Sunday, April 2, the Penguins faced off against the Flyers in Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena. Our beloved Pens came out strong with a two-goal lead after the first period, and despite a strong showing in the third, the Flyers were just never able to close the gap. Pittsburgh won 4-2, and earned two more points in their race towards the playoffs.
On Tuesday, April 4, Pittsburgh went away to Newark to play the New Jersey Devils. Despite desperately needing every win they can get, the Penguins were never able to find their footing after being behind 2-0 in the first and 4-0 in the second. They did manage to get one in the net in the third, but it was simply too little too late. The Pens fell to the Devils, 5-1.
On Thursday, April 6, the Pens played the Wild at home. With the first score in the first, as well as the second score in the second, and also the third score in the third, Pittsburgh made everyone proud. Minnesota was able to get one past Jarry in the third, but the Penguins would promptly respond with their fourth goal. Pittsburgh won 4-1, and took another two points towards the playoffs.
On Saturday, April 8, the Penguins went up against the Red Wings in Detroit. This one was absolutely one for the books — the Pens were two goals ahead after the first thanks to one from Alex Nylander, as well as an immaculate backhand from captain Sidney Crosby. In the second, we got a Danton Heinen goal assisted by Crosby, which was followed just 42 seconds later by a Red Wings goal. The Penguins held on, however. Just three minutes into the third, Crosby scored an IMMACULATE power play goal for the Penguins, making him the 15th player in NHL history to have 1,500 career points. Congrats, Sid! To round off this absolutely perfect game, Evgeni Malkin scored the final point, giving the Penguins a 5-1 victory over the Red Wings and two more points in their race for the Wild Card slot.
For a glorious seven-ish hours, the Penguins sat in the top Wild Card slot, one point ahead of the Islanders and the Panthers. Unfortunately, both of those teams won their games on Saturday, so the Pens are once again on the outside looking in. At this point, there are only two games remaining in the regular season. In order for Pittsburgh to hold onto their 16 year streak, they need to win both games, and either the Panthers or the Islanders need to lose at least one. While I feel like this is feasible, I am genuinely nervous at this point. I am begging on my knees, sending up an Easter Sunday prayer: please, God, please let the Penguins make it to the playoffs.