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After tough win at Philly, Devils set to host Pens

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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After tough win at Philly, Devils set to host Pens
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New Jersey Devils
PENGUINS (30-18-4) at DEVILS (29-19-3)

TV
: ROOT (HD), MSG PLUS

Last 10: Pittsburgh 9-1-0; New Jersey 6-3-1.

Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Devils have won two of the first three matchups, including a 3-1 decision at the Consol Energy Center on Jan. 7.

Big Story: New Jersey winger Ilya Kovalchuk isn't known for his fists. But on Saturday, the Russian sniper had a "Gordie Howe hat trick," tallying a goal and an assist while also dropping the gloves with Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn. Kovalchuk won the bout, knocking Schenn to the ice.

Kovalchuk was angered by what he thought was a slew-foot by Zac Rinaldo on Devils captain Zach Parise. Kovalchuk wanted to fight Rinaldo, but instead found himself exchanging fists with Schenn.

"I asked him, 'What are you going to do?' He said, 'Fight you,'" Kovalchuk told the Newark Star-Ledger. "Rinaldo slew-footed Zach. He's one of those kind of players who wanted to get something going and they did."

Team Scope:

Penguins: Pittsburgh is playing without two of its top players -- centers Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal -- and yet it continues to find ways to win. The Pens won for the ninth time in their last 10 games Saturday afternoon, earning an impressive 2-1 victory against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Evgeni Malkin scored via the power play, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves.

"Marc was exceptional," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He was able to control the rebounds and limit the opportunities they had."

Devils: New Jersey appeared to be on its way to an emphatic victory in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, as it held a 6-0 lead after 40 minutes. But the Flyers nearly pulled off an improbable rally, scoring four times in the third while outshooting the Devils 24-1. In the end, though, New Jersey hung on for a 6-4 win.

"It's a crazy game and it's a game of momentum," Devils goalie Johan Hedberg told the Star-Ledger. "I think we played very good for two periods. We were up, 6-0. At the same time, if you've been in this game for a while, you know that these games can go crazy, like this one did.

"They were pushing it and everything bounced right for them. They got back in it, and it got a little crazy at the end."

Who's Hot: Pens forward Matt Cooke has two goals in his last three games. … Kovalchuk now has seven points in his last three games for New Jersey. He also reached the 20-goal plateau for a 10th straight season Saturday afternoon. Martin Brodeur has won back-to-back starts and his 5-2-1 in his last seven appearances.

Injury Report: Pittsburgh will be without captain Sidney Crosby (concussion/neck), as well as Jordan Staal (MCL), Simon Despres (MCL), Arron Asham (concussion) and Robert Bortuzzo (concussion). … New Jersey is likely to be missing Henrik Tallinder (leg), Travis Zajac (ACL), Ryan Carter (hand), Adam Larsson (back) and Adam Henrique (groin).

Stat Pack: The Malkin-James Neal-Chris Kunitz line continues to shine for Pittsburgh. It is responsible for 35 of the team's last 67 goals. … The Devils lead the League with 12 shorthanded goals. Kovalchuk has three of them.

Puck Drop: "Hopefully the word spreads you don't want to mess with this guy. He's a big, tough, strong man. I like why he fought. It wasn't for himself, but for Zach." -- Devils coach Peter DeBoer on Ilya Kovalchuk

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 25 '12NJD 2 at PIT 5P. Dupuis
Mar 17 '12PIT 5 at NJD 2M. Cooke
Feb 05 '12PIT 2 at NJD 5D. Zubrus
Jan 07 '12NJD 3 at PIT 1I. Kovalchuk
Dec 31 '11PIT 1 at NJD 3D. Clarkson
Oct 22 '11NJD 1 at PIT 4C. Kunitz
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
E. Malkin46293261+53677
J. Neal53272249-260133
C. Kunitz53141933+12542
P. Dupuis53111829+102604
S. Sullivan53101626-51440
K. Letang3051823+52021
T. Kennedy4261622+22901
J. Staal3415621+02030
M. Cooke5391019-12011
M. Niskanen5231417+113530
P. Martin4611617-81400
D. Engelland4721012+54200
S. Crosby821012+7801
A. Asham412911-55300
R. Park364610-41002
J. Vitale463710-42401
B. Orpik452810+12800
C. Adams53358-72800
C. O'Reilly29257-8410
Z. Michalek33156-111600
D. Jeffrey18224+1200
S. Despres14134+4810
A. Picard17044+4400
B. Lovejoy26123+11100
J. Williams7112+1400
M. Letestu11011-6200
C. Sneep1011+1000
E. Tangradi12000-51200
S. MacIntyre11000+0400
R. Bortuzzo6000+1200
C. McDonald4000+1000
B. Strait1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Fleury4528-13-210111542.30.912
B. Johnson112-6-2302613.10.885
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
P. Elias51183351-31673
I. Kovalchuk47222850-62363
Z. Parise52202646-22632
A. Henrique44132134+7703
D. Zubrus52151631+32442
D. Clarkson5220929-98863
P. Sykora52121426+23014
A. Ponikarovsky5591221-83041
A. Larsson4821416-61800
K. Foster324913-151220
A. Greene2701111+6800
M. Fayne523710-22400
A. Volchenkov45178-52600
N. Palmieri26437-71200
M. Tedenby43156-151600
H. Tallinder39066-111600
B. Salvador52055+123200
R. Carter49224-166000
M. Taormina18044+3200
T. Zajac8123-2200
J. Josefson13022+3200
S. Bernier4022+2000
A. Urbom5101+1900
C. Janssen36011-55500
B. Mills27011-103200
E. Boulton30000-116400
T. Sestito18000-5700
R. Pelley7000+0700
S. Zalewski7000-2000
M. Fraser4000-21400
V. Zharkov4000-2000
P. Harrold2000-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Brodeur3417-12-2868222.75.895
J. Hedberg2213-7-1545912.52.909