April 7, 2018 / 2:33 AM / in 14 days

Kessel sets career high in points as Penguins blank Senators

Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel each collected one goal and one assist and goalie Casey DeSmith stopped 35 shots to record his first NHL shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins finished the regular season with a 4-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night in Pittsburgh.

DeSmith, the undrafted backup netminder, made his 11th career start one to remember at PPG Paints Arena on a night the Penguins collected many milestones beyond clinching the second spot in the Metropolitan Division and earning home-ice advantage for the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The two-time defending champion-Penguins reached the 100-point mark for the ninth time in the last 11 full 82-game seasons.

Head coach Mike Sullivan claimed his 200th victory.

The Penguins set a franchise record with a 26.2 percent power-play rate, beating the mark set in 1995-96 by a team that boasted Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis.

Crosby, who skated in all 82 games in a season for the first time in his 13-year career, opened the scoring with a power-play marker 85 seconds into the second period. After gaining the puck deep in the offensive zone, he banked home a shot off Senators goalie Craig Anderson during the scramble for his 29th goal of the year.

Jake Guentzel doubled the lead with an eerily similar goal at 7:31 of the middle frame. Justin Schultz’s point shot was partially blocked, but Guentzel was on the spot for the loose puck and backhanded a sharp-angled offering that hit Anderson and went into the cage.

Kessel joined the offensive onslaught seven minutes into the third period by pouncing on a rebound for his 34th goal of the season and career-high 92nd point, and then Patric Hornqvist rounded out the scoring with three minutes remaining, netting his 29th tally of the season. Hornqvist has collected five goals in as many games and has nine points (6-3-9) in a seven-game point streak.

Pittsburgh’s opposition in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is yet to be determined, with the Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers all possible to finish third in the division.

Anderson made 19 saves for the Senators, who were blanked for the 10th time this season.

Ottawa will finish 30th in the NHL ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres, who recently secured the worst record in the league.

—Field Level Media

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