Despite winning, the Penguins lost out on home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs as Ottawa beat Boston 6-3 to secure fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Senators will open their series against fifth-place Pittsburgh in Ottawa next week.
Despite losing, the Rangers secured sixth place in the conference, and avoided a first-round rematch against New Jersey, when Tampa Bay lost a 2-0 lead and was beaten 3-2 in a shootout by Atlanta. The Rangers, who ended with 94 points to seventh-place Tampa Bay’s 93, will play the Thrashers in a first-round series, while the Lightning take on the Devils.
While the Penguins won’t start the playoffs at home, they reached them for the first time since 2001 by going 47-24-11 – a 47-point improvement from their 22-win season of a year ago, when they were 15th and last in the Eastern Conference. The turnaround is the fourth-best, by points, in NHL history.
Crosby was a big part of that at age 19, accumulating 120 points in his sophomore season to become the youngest scoring champion in NHL history, getting six points more than San Jose’s Joe Thornton. Crosby assisted on the goals by both the Roberts, 41, and Recchi, 39, even though he is less than half the age of both.