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Inconsistency could keep Penguins from early postseason clinching | TribLIVE.com
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Inconsistency could keep Penguins from early postseason clinching

Jonathan Bombulie
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The puck gets past Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith (1) on the game-winning goal scored by Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson during overtime of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Sunrise, Fla. The Panthers won 3-2 in overtime.

Coming into Saturday’s games, the teams in second through ninth place in the Eastern Conference were separated by seven points.

At least one good team will be sitting at home disappointed when the playoffs start.

Given their inconsistency, it’s reasonable to expect the Pittsburgh Penguins will be fighting for their playoff lives through to the last week of the season. Coach Mike Sullivan, however, said he has not yet resigned himself to that fact.

“I haven’t really resigned myself to anything,” he said. “We’re trying to win the game right in front of us. As long as we focus on the short term and we control what we can to get the results, then everything else will take care of itself.”

Injury report

Justin Schultz continued to practice with the team Saturday morning as he gets closer to a return from a broken leg. Sullivan said the fact Schultz has yet to return to the lineup despite being cleared for contact since Monday is not unexpected.

“He’s missed a fair amount of time, so we’re trying to get him as many practices and full-contact practices as we possibly can so that when he does go in, he has the ability to have success,” Sullivan said.