The Prudential Center continues to be an unfriendly place for the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder scored for the New Jersey Devils early in the first and second periods, respectively, and Martin Brodeur stopped 19 shots in a 2-1 win Tuesday afternoon before an announced sellout crowd of 16,592.
"I don't think it's necessarily the building or anything," Penguins forward Brandon Sutter told Root Sports. "It's definitely the style of play they play. They're a very patient team. They play really well in their own end defensively. They have some big [defensemen] that keep you away from the net, and they play such a good defensive game, and I think even tonight we still had a few chances."
New Jersey won both home games against Pittsburgh this season, allowing one goal in each, and has won 11 of 13 in Newark, N.J., with Dan Bylsma as Penguins coach.
"There has been situations in the past where maybe we didn't stick with it or got frustrated here," Bylsma said. "... But we got back in it, we kept in it, [but] we needed to find more. There were only 20 shots out there for us."
Brodeur made several key stops in the third period to protect the lead, including a glove save on James Neal off a 2-on-1 break and a chest save on another Neal attempt moments later. Earlier in the period, Brodeur made a stick save on Chris Kunitz and denied Sidney Crosby off the rebound.
"[It was] pretty similar (to other games here)," Crosby said. "I thought we had some more chances this time around, though, I felt like some really good chances that didn't go. But, yeah, kind of similar."
Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr was held scoreless in his initial bid to tie Penguins great and former teammate Mario Lemieux for seventh on the NHL scoring list with 1,723 points. Jagr had two shots on goal.
The line of Henrique, Ryder and Ryane Clowe combined for five points in the first 23 minutes of the game, helping the Devils set the tone in the 1 p.m. ET New Year's Eve start. Clowe got his first point since returning from a concussion Dec. 27.
"I think I've felt a little better here every game," Clowe told MSG Network. "I think our line has jelled a little bit, which is probably what we need to help us have some depth. Things have been going pretty smooth so far."
Clowe forced Neal to turn over the puck in the Penguins zone and fed Henrique with a pass between the circles. Henrique moved in and wristed a shot past Fleury at 1:38 of the first period. It was the third straight game with a goal for Henrique and his ninth of the season.
"They're taking some pressure off [our top line], which is what we needed," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "We needed some secondary chemistry, some secondary scoring, and those guys have done that for us which couldn't come at a better time. We've been waiting for a while for that."
The Devils also have been trying to get back over .500 for some time, and are now 17-16-8.
"It's always that threshold you're looking at when you start a season, is trying to get as many games over that limit of .500 there," Brodeur said. "It took us a while to get there, and now finally surpass it. ... We just have to keep playing well and I'm sure eventually we'll be looking way down to the .500 mark, hopefully."
Brodeur picked up the secondary assist on Ryder's 12th goal, moving the puck ahead to the forward who carried into the Penguins end before sending a pass across to the left side for Henrique. He found Ryder for a snap shot from between the circles at 2:45 of the second.
"I almost gave up the puck, that's why I kind of got lucky on the assist there," Brodeur said. "I'll take it; they don't ask how."
Niskanen answered when he finished off a cycle by the Penguins that led to Crosby passing out from behind the net to Niskanen at the top of the right circle for a slap shot that beat Brodeur to his glove side.
The Devils lost forward Patrik Elias to an apparent upper-body injury 3:24 into the first period. Elias appeared to lose his balance as a result of a hit by Penguins forward Tanner Glass after playing the puck in the neutral zone and crashed into the boards. He stayed down for some time before eventually getting up and leaving the ice under his own power; he did not return to the game.
"It wasn't precautionary," DeBoer said. "I don't think it was an option to have him back. But I don't know anything more than that; I won't until tomorrow morning."
|Sidney Crosby Hooking against Jaromir Jagr|
|Robert Bortuzzo Tripping against Ryane Clowe|
|Brandon Sutter Tripping against Michael Ryder|
|Brooks Orpik Interference against Dainius Zubrus|
|Bryce Salvador Interference against Brian Gibbons|