Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - James Neal notched his third career hat trick as the Pittsburgh Penguins capped an excellent regular season with an 8-3 rout of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Penguins went 36-12-0 on the season to finish as the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference and will open the playoffs hosting either the New York Islanders or Ottawa Senators.
Carolina, meanwhile, dropped 19 of its final 23 games of the campaign and finished 13th in the Eastern Conference. Before the momentous slide, the Hurricanes were sitting first in the Southeast Division, which was won by Washington.
Evgeni Malkin posted a goal and two assists while Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 stops for the Penguins, who snapped a two-game slide.
Keith Westgarth scored twice and Tuomo Ruutu also lit the lamp for the Hurricanes, who saw Justin Peters give up all eight goals on 35 shots.