The Pittsburgh Penguins reached a milestone, sewed up home-ice advantage when the playoffs start and drew the ire of another divisional opponent on a busy Thursday night.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves to tie the Pittsburgh franchise record for wins and the Penguins clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh earned the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference for the fourth consecutive season and will play the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round. It was in the aftermath of a 6-4 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday that Flyers coach Peter Laviolette called Penguins counterpart Dan Bylsma “gutless” and Philadelphia forward Daniel Briere said Joe Vitale was “trying to hurt me” after a late-game check.
After Thursday’s game, Rangers coach John Tortorella was even more scathing, calling the Penguins “one of the most arrogant organizations in the league” during a profanity-laden tirade following Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik’s knee-to-knee hit on New York center Derek Stepan.
My Penguins clinched home-ice advantage to play against hated rival Philadelphia. They beat us pretty badly just last week. I’d say it’s time for payback, and where better than in the Stanley Cup playoffs! I like where Pittsburgh’s at right now. Most everyone is finally healthy, we’re hitting on all cylinders, and we should have a great playoff experience. Anything short of reaching the Stanley Cup finals would be a disappointment. Go Pens!