PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - The Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed a high-scoring night and moved into a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-1 home win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.
Top scorers Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby scored power play goals to help the Penguins (42-27-8) catch the Philadelphia Flyers in the standings with five games remaining.
The top four teams in each conference receive home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“We wanted to take advantage of being at home,” Crosby told reporters, after Pittsburgh finished an eight-game homestand with six wins.
“It was a good scenario for us and now we have to keep going. (Tonight) We didn’t change the way we played or let up at all, we had to make sure we kept doing the same things.”
The slumping Devils (47-26-4) have lost six straight and are holding on to third in the East, having already secured their playoff berth.
Pittsburgh put New Jersey behind early with first-period scores by Matt Cooke and Bill Guerin. Brian Gionta put New Jersey on the board before NHL points leader Malkin made it 3-1 with his team-leading 34th goal at 17:11 in the first.
Crosby notched up his 30th goal of the year at 9:35 in the second, while Jordan Staal and Chris Kunitz added the team’s final two scores.
The Penguins have turned things around and surged into the playoff picture since coach Dan Bylsma took over the team for the fired Michel Therrien in February.
“We have had to form an identity in a short amount of time,” Bylsma said.
“The Devils hadn’t seen us play yet and we wanted to play the type of game they hadn’t seen yet. It’s human nature to look at the standings, but the focus for us is how we need to play.”
Martin Brodeur, who became the NHL’s all-time top game winner last month, failed to win for the sixth consecutive start.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom