Devils allow a goal in each of the first two periods and two in the third en route to a 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH, PA - The New Jersey Devils battled back from a slow start to tie it in a strong second period but two early third-period goals by the Pittsburgh Penguins put this game out of reach in a 4-1 loss at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on Friday night.
New Jersey returns home to face the Detroit Red Wings on Hockey Fights Cancer night Saturday. The game can be seen on MSG+ and heard on the Devils Hockey Network, including right here at NewJerseyDevils.com. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. ET.
"I thought the beginning of the first was okay, then they took over. Second period was 50/50 and then they beat us (in the third). It wasn't good enough," said Devils head coach John Hynes.
Almost eight minutes in, the Penguins struck for the game's first goal. Dominik Kahun picked up the puck in the corner of the Devils zone and skated out front before backhanding it past Mackenzie Blackwood to put the Penguins on the board.
Miles Wood took a cross-checking penalty to give the game's first power play to the Penguins. Pittsburgh had plenty of chances but Devils were able to kill it off.
Chad Ruhwedel was called for interference with 1:20 left in the first, putting the Devils on the man advantage.
Devils connected on that power play but not until 31 seconds into the middle frame. Nico Hischier picked up a rebound in front of the Penguins net and dished it out to Taylor Hall who made no mistake, quickly rifling the puck in past Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry.
Wood took another penalty but again, the Devils did a great job killing it off. They used that kill to steal some of the game's momentum away from the home team. Shots on goal after the first period were 17-5 for the Pens but the Devils stormed back, outshooting Pittsburgh 14-2 in the first half of the second period.
"It was a sloppy, inexcusable first," stated Blake Coleman. "I thought we had a lot of pushback in the second. We had a lot more offensive zone time but it was a game we needed to take advantage of and didn't."
With 7:33 to go in the second, Evgeni Malkin sprung Guentzel on a breakaway and he made no mistake, tucking home a backhand deke to put the Penguins back in the lead.
After 40 minutes, shots on goal were 32-26 for the Penguins.
2:05 into the third, McCann scooped up a loose puck after Coleman was clipped in the face with a high stick and fired it high to make it a two-goal game.
Twenty five seconds later, John Marino's slap shot from the right point beat a screened Blackwood to extend the Penguins lead to 4-1.
"We never got any momentum in the third," Coleman remarked. "Even when we got some pushback, we didn't allow ourselves to get back all the way into the game."
After that goal, Louis Domingue came in to make his Devils debut. He made five saves in the game's final 17 minutes.
"Louis is going to go tomorrow so get him some action for tonight. Get some shots, stop the bleeding and we'll take a look at him tomorrow," Hynes noted.
"The pull was not regarding Mackenzie, it was 4-1. They had two quick ones. Different look in net. He hasn't played in the NHL this year so we gave him some action."
Final shot count in the game was 41-37 for the Penguins.