Slumping Pittsburgh Penguins Get An Opportunity They Don’t Deserve


Apr 7, 2015; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save on a shot from Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone (61) in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Penguins 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Despite their best efforts, the Pittsburgh Penguins are on the brink of qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs once again.

Following the Bruins’ 4-2 loss in Florida on Thursday night – the second regulation defeat for Boston in a little over 24 hours – the Pens need to accrue just two standings points over their final two games to play in the NHL’s postseason for the ninth consecutive year.

More from Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh’s first opportunity to reach the finish line comes Friday night at home, as the Islanders will provide the opposition. If the Pens (42-26-12, 96 points) can’t get a victory then, they will have one final chance Saturday night at basement-dwelling Buffalo.

If it feels like the planets are aligning in the Pens’ favor, that’s because they are. Tuesday’s crushing come-from-ahead overtime loss at Ottawa dropped Pittsburgh to 3-8-2 since March 14, but coach Mike Johnston’s side still has a 97 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Sports Club Stats.

Furthermore, even if the Pens somehow find a way to lose both remaining games in regulation, they still have a 65 percent chance to sneak into an Eastern Conference wild-card spot. That scenario is highly unlikely, especially considering that the Sabres are one of the NHL’s worst teams in recent history, but it illustrates how fortunate this team is to still be alive for the playoffs.

Live Feed

Top Shelf Picks: Best NHL Bets Today (Predators Take Care of Business vs. Flyers)
Top Shelf Picks: Best NHL Bets Today (Predators Take Care of Business vs. Flyers) /


  • Quick Reign: Rangers Crown Kings and Reclaim NHL ThroneBlue Line Station
  • Erik Gudbranson Suspended for One Game by NHL DOPSUnion and Blue
  • NHL 2024 mock draft has Oilers picking record-setting defencemanOil On Whyte
  • How Vegas Became THE Goaltending TeamVegas Hockey Knight
  • 1200 Games Is A Milestone For Staal Cardiac Cane
  • Of course, part of the reason they are still a contender is the way they started the season. Going 22-6-4 leading into the Christmas break built one heck of a cushion, so full credit to the Pens for building such an excellent start.

    Since that time, the Penguins have gotten exactly half of the points available while posting a 20-20-8 mark. As it turns out, that may be enough to gain entry to the second season. In fact, it would have been more than enough had the Senators (42-26-13, 97 points) not gone on a terrific run from the beginning of March onward.

    Thursday’s Boston loss not only boosted the Pens’ playoff odds to a near certainty, it also locked up a postseason spot for the Islanders, thus eliminating New York’s most tangible motivation for Friday evening. The Isles (98 points) can still pass Washington (101 points) for home ice in the first round, but they no longer fear slipping into the draft lottery.

    Recent circumstances have fallen their way, but it’s tough to say the Pens deserved a break. Not when they have found a way to lose four consecutive games in which they’ve netted the first goal, including collapses from up 2-0 at Columbus last Saturday and 3-0 ahead Tuesday in Ottawa.

    In total, the Penguins have surrendered four two-goal leads over their past eight games, with their lone win out of those four tilts coming in a shootout against San Jose on March 29. In this era of reduced offensive production, it’s particularly ignominious that Pittsburgh has managed to look so unsteady while leading.

    Nevertheless, the angst could all be over by 10 p.m. Friday night at Consol Energy Center. The Pens have gotten a gift over the past couple of days, but it’s up to them to unwrap it.

    Next: Steelers great Troy Polamalu announces retirement