Martin Brodeur makes one of his 18 saves against Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
newjerseydevils.com (March 25) – Not even the return of Patrik Elias was enough to help the Devils bust their slump.
Elias came back after missing four games (knee, flu), but couldn't kickstart the Devils, who suffered their 10th shutout of the season with a 2-0 loss to the Penguins at Prudential Center on Tuesday night.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for his fourth shutout, while Ryan Malone and Marian Hossa had a goal apiece for Pittsburgh, which swept the home-and-home series following Saturday's win at Mellon Arena.
Martin Brodeur (40-25-6) made 18 saves in his 35th straight start and was named the game's Third Star.
New Jersey's third-leading scorer with 50 points (18g-32a), Elias registered a team-high five shots for the Devils, who had 14 shots blocked by Pittsburgh defenders. The power play, which was two for its last 15 entering the game, finished the night 0-for-3.
Then there was the one that got away. For a second straight time on home ice, the Devils had a goal wiped off the board. This time, Sheldon Brookbank was denied what would have been the game-tying goal in the second period.
Unlike the video review Friday night against the Islanders that overturned Sergei Brylin's tally, Brookbank's play was immediately waved off on the ice. The public address announcement held that Fleury had been unable to play the puck.
"We had opportunities," head coach Brent Sutter said. "We had some scoring chances. We didn't capitalize on them. On the goal, that was a decision made by the official. Whether it's right or wrong, it was disallowed."
The Devils (42-27-7) matched a season-high four-game winless streak (0-3-1) and lost ground to the Senators, who rallied to beat Buffalo 6-3. New Jersey slipped four points behind Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic with six games remaining.
The latest Eastern Conference picture had the Devils and Senators tied in points (91). The Rangers moved within two (89) of New Jersey after taking a point in a 2-1 overtime to the Flyers (88).
The Devils' upcoming schedule features a Thursday meeting with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. So far the club is winless in six tries against New York, but will have to end that slide in order to avoid their longest winless stretch of the campaign.
Sutter's group returns to Newark to host the Flyers on Friday night, after which they'll have two April games at home (Boston, Rangers) and two on the road (Isles, Flyers) to wrap up the regular season.
Elias was serving two for interference when Pittsburgh, without Sidney Crosby (ankle), connected for the first goal of the contest.
Ryan Whitney's pass from the bottom of the left circle found Malone at the left hash marks for a one-timer and a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead at 5:18 of the first. It was Malone's 27th of the year, good for fourth best on the team.
It was the seventh goal in eight games against the Devils for Malone, who was a New Jersey nemesis all season long.
The Devils appeared to have evened things up, 1-1, at 8:26 of the second on what would have been Brookbank's first career goal. But Fleury was bumped by traffic after Arron Asham drove to the front of the net. Brookbank then scored into the empty side from the right circle, but it was quickly waved off.
"It's the ref's decision, his call," Sutter said. "I'm not going to sit here and blame the officiating tonight."
Hossa added his 28th on an empty netter with 41.7 seconds left in regulation.
The Devils closed out the season series against Pittsburgh with a mark of 4-4-0, ending a streak of five straight series wins that began in '01-02... Jay Pandolfo played in his 700th career game... Brylin played in his 322nd consecutive game, passing Kirk Muller for the second longest streak in club history. Ken Daneyko (388) holds the team record... Bryce Salvador missed his fourth game with a lower body injury.
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