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Pittsburgh Penguins lock up playoff berth by beating Detroit Red Wings 4-1

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard gloves a shot during the second period against the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Thursday. (AP photo)

By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH — So much for the slow start. The seemingly endless string of injuries to bold-faced names, to the ones that left the Pittsburgh Penguins drifting aimlessly for long stretches.
Then March came. April, too. And the Penguins did what they always seem to do when the number of games dwindles and the stakes rise. They found themselves in time to reach the playoffs.
The proof came over three periods against Detroit on Thursday night. Phil Kessel regained his scoring touch. Sidney Crosby threw his body — and the puck — into the net. Matt Murray swung the momentum with sprawling save on a breakaway and Pittsburgh extended the NHL’s longest postseason streak to 13 years and counting with a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings.
Pittsburgh scored twice against the Red Wings with the man advantage, with both goals coming from the top group. Kessel’s tap-in from the left post at 18:18 of the first period put the Penguins in front to stay. Crosby’s jam from in close at 6:36 of the third period — a shot that came as he was being dumped into the net — ended a 10-game goal drought for the captain.
Matt Puempel scored his first NHL goal in more than two years for the Red Wings. Jimmy Howard finished with 43 saves, but couldn’t quite duplicate his spectacular performance in a victory over the Penguins on Tuesday as Detroit’s six-game winning streak came to a halt.