Penguins 6, Devils 1
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:55 AM
The Devils left Pittsburgh still searching for an end to their losing skid.
Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz each had a goal and an assist and Sergei Gonchar added two assists Wednesday for the Penguins, who topped the Devils, 6-1, at Mellon Arena.
Brian Gionta had New Jersey's lone goal in the loss, which extended the club's season-high winless streak to six games – its longest since 2001.
faced 37 shots for the second straight game, and recorded 31 saves. Brodeur has seen 164 shots in the last four contests for an average of 41 per game. The four-time Vezina Trophy winner has gone 1-5-1 since his record-setting 552nd win on March 17.
Brodeur battled a balanced attack in the Steel City as six different Penguins scored. Pittsburgh went ahead 2-0 in a 36-second span of the first period, and held a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. They potted two more 13 seconds apart in the middle frame before adding another in the third.
Crosby got his 30th and stretched his points streak to 12 games (7g-13a). Bill Guerin recorded his 20th, and League-leading scorer Evgeni Malkin registered his 34th with a power-play tally.
The Penguins won their sixth in seven outings as Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves.
Head coach Brent Sutter said his team will need to work together as a group to shake off the slump. They've been outscored 9-1 in their last two games.
"We're going through something that's not an easy thing to go through," Sutter said. "We're dealing with it; we're going through it. This is the hand we've dealt ourselves and we have to make sure we handle it the right way."
The Devils (47-26-4) are still looking to regain their potent scoring touch, and can get back on track this Friday when they host Tampa Bay. With just seven goals in their last six games, Jersey's Team will be hungry to light the lamp at Prudential Center.
"No one said this was going to turn around just like that," Sutter continued. "All we can do is, we have to keep our heads to the grindstone here and keep pushing through.
The Devils have already sewn up a playoff berth, though Wednesday's setback hampered their efforts to catch Washington in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals' win over the Islanders gave them a three-point cushion for second place in the conference standings.
Philadelphia's loss to Toronto, however, was a boost for the Devils' chances at clinching the Atlantic Division. The Flyers failed to gain ground and sit tied with the Penguins for second in the division (92 points), six behind New Jersey.
Matt Cooke gave the Penguins the lead with his 11th. Cooke corralled Maxime Talbot's dump-in for a backhander through Brodeur from the left side of the net 5:55 into the first.
Thirty-six seconds later, Guerin put Pittsburgh ahead by a pair. The former Devil rushed the right side and took a pass back from Kunitz before wristing the puck top-shelf from the right circle at 6:31.
Gionta's fourth point in five games (1g-3a) cut the deficit in half. Dainius Zubrus
blasted from the left circle, and Gionta deftly swatted the bouncing rebound past Fleury at 11:22.
John Madden came within inches of tying the contest at 2-2, but caught the right iron with a wrister from the left side at 12:43.
The Devils fell back into a two-goal hole while shorthanded, when Malkin scored from the right faceoff dot to run his points streak to six games (4g-7a) with 2:49 left in the first.
In the second period, Kris Letang's shot from the left circle deflected off Crosby's left skate in the crease for a power-play goal at 9:35. Thirteen seconds later, Ruslan Fedotenko fired on goal from the left side and Jordan Staal put home the rebound for his 21st at 9:48.
"It was a 2-1 game and we took two bad penalties," Sutter said. "Bang, it's a 4-1 hockey game. We were playing OK up until then."
Kunitz notched his 23rd on a backhander from the slot to close out the scoring at 7:08 of the third.
(lower body injury) did not play. Jay Pandolfo filled in and made his first appearance in the last four games. ... Crosby had a goal waved off with 6:37 left in regulation, when he kicked the puck into the net while sliding through the slot on his side. ... The Devils split their season series with Pittsburgh (3-3-0). ... New Jersey has five games remaining on its regular season schedule.