The Conference lead is theirs - for now. The Pittsburgh Penguins moved a point ahead of the Montreal Canadiens with a 3-1 victory over the offseason bound New York Islanders.
Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis returned to the lineup for the game, but it was help some assistance from the fourth line that charged the Penguins forward. Georges Laraque and Jarkko Ruutu laced a pass to Evgeni Malkin early in the first to quickly put the Pens ahead 1-0. New York would tie it up before the start of the second.
In the second, Ruutu once again charged down the ice shorthanded looking to center the pass. With no one on the wing and a well-guarded Islanders before him, Ruutu shot around the net and slipped the wraparound home for a 2-1 lead. Ruutu would later come one post shot away from a two goal night.
Georges Laraque, already with two points on the night, took a breakaway pass from Ruutu straight down the hole towards Islanders netminder Wade Dubielewicz. Laraque fanned on the first bouncing puck shot, only to connect on the second to whip it past for the game-winner.
Marc-Andre Fleury was once again playing above and beyond in net. Since his return on March 2, MAF has not allowed more than two goals per game and has held an undefeated 6-0 record, including one shutout.
With the outcome of the Montreal/Buffalo game pending until tomorrow night, Pittsburgh stands one point in front of the Habs in the Conference standings. A Montreal regulation loss puts them even in games played, with Pitt still holding the lead.
The Rangers visit Pittsburgh on Sunday for a 12:30 matchup on NBC. Adjust your schedules - as part of the flex scheduling with NBC, this game was initially planned for 3:00.
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