Predators Vs. Penguins: Pittsburgh Clinches Playoff Berth With Dominating 5-1 Win

Evgeni Malkin scored two goals and James Neal had four assists as the offensive firepower continues to be unrelenting for a Pittsburgh team that is just one point out of first place in the Eastern Conference.

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Predators Vs. Penguins Recap: Pittsburgh Clinches Playoff Berth With 5-1 Win

The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched a playoff berth on Thursday night with a dominating 5-1 win over the Nashville Predators. In their only meeting with the Preds this season, the Pens offensive firepower was simply too much early on as Dan Bylsma's club salted away the third period for their 13th win in the past 14 games.

With a 4-1 lead heading into the final 20 minutes, the Pens added one more when Evgeni Maklin scored his second goal of the night. Malkin bombed one over the glove of Pekka Rinne for his 45th of the season. He's simply the best player on the planet for the best team on the planet these days. James Neal assisted Malkin on his second goal, as that duo continues to rack up the points. After notching four points against Winnipeg, Neal added another four points Thursday. It was a hat-trick that did the damage against the Jets but against the Preds, Neal had four assists.

Wiith a playoff berth now secured, the Pens continue to chase down the New York Rangers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They are just one point behind the Rangers and now travel to Ottawa to face the Senators on Saturday.

For more on the two teams, head over to the Pittsburgh Penguins blog PensBurgh and the Nashville Predators blog On The Forecheck. Stay on this StoryStream for more updates, and head to SB Nation's NHL hub for more from the entire league.

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Predators Vs. Penguins Score Update: Pittsburgh Adds Two More For 4-1 Lead

The offensive fireworks continued for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second period of Thursday night's game against the Nashville Predators. After blowing out Winnipeg with 8 goals earlier this week, the Pens took a 4-0 lead after adding two more in the first eight minutes of the second period.

Matt Cooke scored first after a beautiful play by James Neal set him up right in front with a wide open net. Neal jumped a pass in the Predator's zone and quickly went the other way with it, with Cooke filling the lane on his right for a two-on-none chance. Neal faked Pekka Rinne and then slid it over to Cooke for the easy score. Six minutes later, Neal would set up another goal, this time feeding Chris Kunitz for the 4-0 lead. It was Kunitz's 22nd goal of the season and Neal's third point of the night.

The Predators had plenty of chances to put a few goals on the board but on two separate occasions, they put the puck wide of the post from just feet in front of the crease and with a wide open net. Alexander Radulov, the young Russian sensation, finally ended the shutout with his first goal of the season. Pittsburgh heads to the third period firmly in control.

For more on the two teams, head over to the Pittsburgh Penguins blog PensBurgh and the Nashville Predators blog On The Forecheck. Stay on this StoryStream for more updates, and head to SB Nation's NHL hub for more from the entire league.

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Penguins Vs. Predators Score: Pittsburgh Leads 2-0 After One Period

The Pittsburgh Penguins are already ahead 2-0 on the Nashville Predators, and Evgeni Malkin has already extended his NHL points lead. He scored a goal just 1:23 into the game, assisted by James Neal and Kris Letang. Pascal Dupuis added a goal of his own three minutes later.

Letang also had a hand in that goal and has a +2 rating, two hits and a takeaway to go with those two assists. Sidney Crosby is back to dominating in the faceoff circle; he's won seven out of 10 already. Pekka Rinne's heroics have kept the Preds in games they didn't belong in all season long, but with him having already let in two, Nashville's going to have a tough time getting any points out of this one.

For more on the two teams, head over to Pittsburgh Penguins blog PensBurgh and Nashville Predators blog On The Forecheck. Stay on this StoryStream for more updates, and head to SB Nation's NHL hub for more from the entire league.

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Penguins Vs. Predators Preview: Pittsburgh Looks To Keep Home Hot Streak Going Against Nashville

Can the Penguins push their home winning streak to nine while spoiling the possible return of the Predators Alexander Radulov?

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