Penguins hoping to ‘get some help,’ stay alive in East wild-card race 


Sidney Crosby, who leads the Penguins with 92 points (42 goals, 50 assists) at 36 years old, has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in his past 12 games, including a goal and an assist Monday. Malkin, 37, has scored seven of his 26 goals, and Kris Letang, 36, has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) also in that stretch.

Erik Karlsson, acquired from the San Jose Sharks in a three-team trade on Aug. 6, has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past seven games.

“I think we’ve lost one in regulation in the last 11 or 12 games,” Karlsson said. “It doesn’t matter if it came a couple of days ago or came two weeks ago, that’s taking care of business on our end. That’s all we’ve got to do. … Whatever happens around us, there is not much we can do about (it).

“We put ourselves in a great position here, and (it’s) something we could only dream about a few months ago.”

The Penguins entered Saturday as the second wild card and would have clinched by winning their final three games, but they lost 6-4 at home to the Bruins.

Now, they are hoping for a path to earn their way back in Wednesday.

“There’s only one thing we can do, is to win the game,” Letang said. “Doesn’t matter if I put my eyes on [other games] or not, the only thing we need to do is come prepared and win that game.”

It’s a familiar position.

Last season, Pittsburgh would have secured a spot by winning its final two games. It lost 5-2 at home to the Chicago Blackhawks on April 11, 2023, and was eliminated the next day when the New York Islanders won 4-2 against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Penguins had qualified for the playoffs the previous 16 seasons. It finished with a 3-2 loss in overtime at the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 13, 2023, the only game Crosby, Malkin and Letang have played together with no chance at the postseason.

Like a year ago, they again wait and wonder.

“Given the position we were in a few weeks ago, I think we would have taken this opportunity,” said Crosby, the Pittsburgh captain. “So hopefully, we get some help. All we can do is control being ready to play and finding a way to win that one.

“I think, just for us and how hard we’ve worked to get ourselves back in the picture here, I’m hoping we find a way to make that a meaningful game (on Wednesday). That would be great. We’ve worked pretty hard to get ourselves in this position and get ourselves a chance. Hopefully, we get that opportunity.”

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