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NHL Playoffs: Penguins Beat Devils As Flyers, Lightning Lose

The Penguins beat the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, 4-2, improving their standing in the NHL playoff picture.

Jordan Staal scored the only goal of the first period, on the power play. David Steckel evened the score for the Devils late in the second period, but Pascal Dupuis quickly answered to give the Pens a 2-1 lead. Chris Kunitz and Dupuis scored in the third period for the Pens. Marc-Andre Fleury tallied 22 saves.

The win was a big one for the Penguins, especially in that the Flyers and Lightning, the two teams who will have the most impact on the Pens' playoff standing, both lost (the Flyers lost 5-2 to the Senators, and the Lightning lost 4-2 to the Sabres).

Both the Flyers and Pens still have two games left to play, and Philadelphia leads Pittsburgh by one point. The Flyers will win any tiebreakers, so the Penguins will have to surpass their point total to win the Atlantic Division. If they do, they will probably get the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and face the Canadiens, Sabres or Rangers with home-ice advantage.

If the Penguins are unable to surpass the Flyers, they will play the Lightning in the first round. Today's events mean the Pens have 102 points and the Lightning 99, so with two games remaining for each team, it will be difficult for the Lightning to surpass the Pens and claim home-ice advantage in the two teams' playoff matchup.

In other Eastern Conference playoff news, the Montreal Canadiens beat the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night and have clinched a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals' 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs clinched the Southeast Division for the Caps and eliminated Toronto from the playoff race. The Caps now have the inside track on the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.