Penguins 5, Devils 1
PITTSBURGH -- Two weeks into the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally found their winning form at home.
Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby each had a goal and two assists Saturday afternoon as the Penguins put together a complete effort in a 5-1 win against the New Jersey Devils.
Brandon Sutter and Robert Bortuzzo each added his first goal as a Penguin, Kris Letang also scored and reigning scoring champion Evgeni Malkin had two assists for Pittsburgh, which limited New Jersey to 16 shots.
Andy Greene had a shorthanded goal for the Devils, who lost in regulation for the first time this season. New Jersey, which extended its winless streak to four, had a game end before overtime for the first time in its past five contests.
Facing his childhood idol in Martin Brodeur, Penguins goalieMarc-Andre Fleury improved to 7-3 in his past 10 against the Devils. He didn't have to work too hard to do it -- his best saves probably both came in the first period, when he twice denied New Jersey sniper Ilya Kovalchuk from the left-wing circle.
Pittsburgh reversed a season-long trend that had seen it outscored 11-2 in second periods by doubling its season output for second-period tallies in a span of 7:32.
Sutter scored for the first time since a draft-day trade from Carolina 2:27 into the second on a fast sequence immediately after Crosby came out of the penalty box. The Penguins had two solid scoring chances in the ensuing 35 seconds, the second of which giving them the first goal of a game for the seventh time in eight contests this season.
Sutter entered the zone with Crosby and Malkin and took an initial shot from the slot. Brodeur went down to make the pad save, but the rebound laid to the left and of Brodeur. Sutter and Crosby both made attempts to flip it over Brodeur's pads. Initially, the goal was awarded to Crosby, but official scorers switched it to Sutter.
He almost had his first goal in his new home arena during the first period, but Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkovmade a "save" on Sutter while sprawled out in the crease. Almost as if he owed the Penguins a goal, Volchenkov gave it right back to them in the second.
Volchenkov whiffed on a pass to defense partner Bryce Salvador in front of his own net, Kunitz picked up the puck and wristed a forehand along the ice that beat Brodeur for his second of the season. Kunitz has been ill in recent days and was questionable for the game as recently as two hours prior to faceoff.
At that point, Pittsburgh was rolling -- and had a power play and an opportunity to really take control of the game. Instead, the Devils seized the momentum back with the first shorthanded goal of Greene's career.
The Penguins' new-look power play debuted Saturday features Evgeni Malkin at the point, but Greene beat a retreating Malkin to open ice and accepted a pass from Dainius Zubrus as he skated alone down the slot. Greene went to his backhand and slid the puck under Fleury for his first goal since March 17, 2012 -- also against Pittsburgh.
Letang made it 3-1 two-and-a-half minutes into the third when he accepted a pass from Kunitz while he was wide open in the high slot. The defenseman walked in and fired a wrist shot that beat Brodeur high to the glove side.
Crosby all but put the game away with his fourth of the season -- but first in four games -- with 12:49 left. The captain took a pass from Kunitz while in the neutral zone along the left-wing boards, skated through the circle, looked off Brodeur as if he was going to pass and fired a wrister that beat him high.
Less than three minutes later, Crosby set up Bortuzzo's first career goal -- a slapper from the point through traffic. Pascal Dupuis earned his second assist of the afternoon on the play.
Like the team he plays for, Devils winger David Clarkson was held without a point for the first time this season. The franchise record for a New Jersey player's scoring streak to begin a season remains 10 (Tim Higgins, 1984-85). The 1993-94 Devils remain the only team in franchise history to earn a point in each of their first seven.
|Three star selections