Originally posted on Bleed Black & Gold  |  Last updated 3/23/12

It was just another night of beautiful hockey for Penguins fans.  Another 5 goal night.  Another 2 goals for who better be MVP Evgeni Malkin.  Not to mention Fleury recorded his 40th win of the season, the first goaltender to hit that mark so far this year.  Oh and James Neal had 4 assists.  This all coming in a game that the announcers talked about beforehand could very possibly be a preview of the Stanley Cup Championship series.  If that’s the best the West has, bring it on.

The night started like any other Penguin game just 1:23 into the first period Malkin knocked in his first of the night, another one of those shots that you just have to sit there and shake your head because it was amazing.   Pascal Dupuis added his 22nd goal of the season a few minutes later to go up 2-0 in the first period.  Dupuis is having a monster season too, and a personal best at that.   The Predators who were sporting the comeback of Russian Alexander Radulov, just could never catch up after the first period.

Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz added two more goals in the second period before Radulov was able to put Nashville on the board.  But not to worry because Malkin buried the Predators with his second goal of the night, 45th of the season in the third period.   Nashville out shot the Penguins 30-23 but it never felt like that, the Penguins seemed pretty dominant throughout.  The Predators who are number one in the league on the Power Play had two opportunities but the Penguins penalty kill unit did what it always does as the 3rd ranked in the NHL and shut it down.

James Neal has been proving that he is worth that new contract he got this year, with 4 assists last night Neal moved into tied for 4th place in points in the league.  He also sits tied at 4th place in goals on the year.  What a ridiculous combo of James Neal and Evgeni Malkin.  It just doesn’t get much better.  Though it doesn’t look like Malkin is going to settle for just the Hart Trophy this year, he wants that Art Ross for most points and Rocket Richard Trophy for top goal scorer.  He’s only 5 goals behind Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, with both teams having 9 games left.    Even if Malkin doesn’t become the top goal scorer it’s looking very likely that he will definitely hit the 50 goal mark this year with 9 games left, which would be the first time in his NHL career.

With 9 games left the Penguins sit only 1 point behind the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers with 1 game still to be played against each other.  It’s also of note that the Penguins are only 3 points behind the league leading St. Louis Blues, and the Blues only have 7 games remaining to the Penguins 9 games.  The President’s Trophy is not out of the reach of the Penguins either.  Another tough weekend lies ahead though first as the Penguins travel to Ottawa on Saturday and then on back to New Jersey to meet the Devils.

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