The Rink Report: Pens Pick Up Huge Win Over Flyers, hold wildcard spot a point ahead of Panthers

Written By Anthony Cugini, Sports Columnist

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Sunday. The win comes at a crucial time as the Penguins now sit in a playoff spot with just five games remaining.

Rickard Rakell scored twice for Pittsburgh as he helped lead the Pens to possibly their biggest win of the season. Rakell has been on fire as he now has totaled six points in his last five games.

Captain Sidney Crosby added to his season  total on Sunday with two assists. Crosby now has 88 points through 77 games played this season.

To put it simply, Casey DeSmith was unbelievable. DeSmith saved 31 of the 33 shots he faced, but the most impressive part of his night was a singular save he made in the third period. 

With the puck flying for the top corner, DeSmith pushed himself across the crease while flailing his blocker and stick. The puck bounced off of his blocker then off of the handle of his stick and out of harm’s way. The save was, undoubtedly, one of his best of this season.

The win over Philly was a memorable one for Kris Letang as it marked his 1,000th NHL game. To bring things full circle, Letang’s first NHL game also came against Pittsburgh’s cross-state rivals.

The victory was crucial for the Penguins as the 4-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday jeopardized their playoff chances. If Pittsburgh manages to miss out on the playoffs, it will be the first time they’ve done so since the 2005-06 season.

Pittsburgh picked up the win despite Evgeni Malkin having one of the most ill disciplined performances I’ve ever seen. Malkin finished the game with  18 penalty minutes after he was ejected just a few minutes into the third period.

After Evgeni Malkin was hit in the face with a stick early in the third, he went to the bench while complaining that there was no penalty called. The referees eventually had enough and issued Geno an unsportsmanlike penalty. Despite picking up the penalty, he continued to berate the refs which then led to a game misconduct.

Looking at the playoff picture as of Sunday night, the Penguins sit in the second Wild Card position, just a point behind the New York Islanders for the first spot. To add to the positive outlook, the Pens have one more game remaining than the Isles.

Pittsburgh’s next game won’t be easy as they head to New Jersey on Tuesday to take on the Devils. The Pens have met the Devils twice this season, both which resulted in a loss.