Rupp's first and second of the season gave him his first two-goal game since Dec. 16, 2003.
newjerseydevils.com (Jan. 29) – Two goals from Mike Rupp provided the good news for the Devils on Tuesday night.
But with Jamie Langenbrunner out of the lineup, Rupp's fourth career two-goal game was all the offense New Jersey could muster in a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Prudential Center.
Ryan Malone scored twice for the Penguins, who got two quick goals late in the second period to erase a 2-1 deficit and send New Jersey to its second straight defeat on home ice.
Head coach Brent Sutter said he expects better.
"Our details right now need to improve," Sutter said. "Your best players need to be your best players. That's what this month has come down to. We've had too much inconsistency. Other teams' top players have outplayed ours."
Without the services of leading scorer Sidney Crosby (ankle) or Colby Armstrong, the Penguins topped the Devils for the second time in as many meetings in the Garden State. All three of New Jersey's wins versus Pittsburgh this season have come on the road.
The Devils (28-19-3) fell to third place in the Atlantic Division with Philadelphia's win, and grabbed 14 of a possible 24 points in January (7-5). Now it's on to a February that features 11 of 15 games in Newark.
The upcoming home schedule should bode well for a Devils group that has strung together two five-game win streaks to take 11 of 16 at Prudential Center since Nov. 28. But the team has struggled here of late, dropping four of its last five while scoring 1.75 goals per game in the losses.
Rupp got the Devils off on the right foot in the first period with a power-play goal for his first of the season.
Two seconds remained on Jordan Staal's high-sticking minor when Rupp swept a shot over a pile in front of Penguins goalie Ty Conklin and inside the left post at 8:54.
Rupp's first point in 32 games this season – and first goal since last March 30 – gave New Jersey its eighth tally on the man advantage in the last three games (8-for-16).
In the second period, Staal was credited with his sixth of the year when Travis Zajac swept the puck off his stick only to have it pinball off of traffic and through the pads of Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur (26-17-2) made 23 saves, but allowed three goals on 10 Pittsburgh shots in the second period. The Devils' goaltender has given up eight goals over two straight losses, and has dropped four of six since posting five straight wins from Jan. 2 to Jan. 12.
Rupp restored New Jersey's lead with his second of the game.
Rod Pelley beat Jeff Taffe on an offensive zone draw at the left circle, winning the puck back to Rupp. Rupp's wrist shot deflected past Conklin at 13:49 of the second period.
Just 52 seconds later, however, Johnny Oduya's defensive zone turnover allowed Maxime Talbot to set up Erik Christensen for his seventh, knotting the contest at 2-2.
Malone broke the tie 1:32 later with his 12th; a one-timer from the top of the crease from Petr Sykora and Evgeni Malkin at 16:13.
Malone and Sykora combined again in the third period for Pittsburgh's fourth goal. Sykora's shot from the bottom of the right circle caught the right post on a Pittsburgh power play, and Malone backhanded a bouncing puck past Brodeur at 5:21.
New Jersey continues the five-game homestand against the Rangers this Friday, followed by a matchup with the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Both games get underway at 7 p.m.
NJD NOTES Andy Greene was back in the lineup after missing the previous three games as a scratch... Tuesday's scratches were Jamie Langenbrunner (ill) and Sheldon Brookbank... Cam Janssen (shoulder) and Jay Pandolfo (groin) remained sidelined.
Rupp had averaged 6:14 of ice time this season entering Tuesday's game. With the absence of Langenbrunner, the 6-5 230-lb. left wing saw a season-high 14:38 of action against the Penguins.
1 - 0 NJD
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NJD
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 PIT