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Crosby scores 20th, Penguins defeat Devils to gain in East Division

Sets Pittsburgh record, gains on Gretzky, Howe for points-per-game seasons

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

Crosby's 20th goal of season

NJD@PIT: Crosby scores long-distance ENG

Sidney Crosby sends the puck all the way down to the Devils' empty goal and the puck trickles in to give him his 20th goal of the season

  • 00:35 •

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored his 20th goal of the season and set a Pittsburgh Penguins record in a 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

The center became the first player in Penguins history to score at least 20 goals in 13 NHL seasons with an empty-net goal from his own goal line with 0.1 seconds remaining. Mario Lemieux and Evgeni Malkin each has 12 such seasons. 

Crosby, who has scored 55 points and can play a maximum of 55 games this season, will average at least one point per game for the 16th straight season to start his NHL career. Only Wayne Gretzky (19 times) started his NHL career with more consecutive point-per-game seasons, and Gretzky and Gordie Howe (17) are the only players who have more point-per-game seasons than Crosby.

"Anytime you're mentioned with Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky, that's pretty neat," Crosby said. "It's also a reminder of how long I played too. So I think, like I said, it's a compliment to be in that company."

Video: NJD@PIT: Rust pads Penguins lead with deflection goal

Bryan Rust scored in a third straight game, Jeff Carter scored for the second time in three games, and Casey DeSmith made 34 saves for the Penguins (31-14-3), who completed a three-game sweep of the Devils.

Pittsburgh, which is 7-1-1 in its past nine games, is second in the MassMutual East Division, one point behind the Washington Capitals and two ahead of the New York Islanders. Washington defeated New York 6-3 later Saturday.

Jack Hughes and Miles Wood scored for New Jersey (14-27-6), which has lost nine straight in regulation. 

Mackenzie Blackwood returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury and made 33 saves. 

"We're trying to play our best all the time," Blackwood said. "It's a learning experience for our team right now. Trying to find ways to win. Trying to find ways to play the right way."

The Devils have not had a lead in eight consecutive games since taking a 1-0 lead at 3:01 of the first period in a 6-4 loss to the Penguins on April 9.

"I really think it's an opportunity for all our young players to make an impression," New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think every player wants that opportunity. They say, 'Well, I don't get enough ice time. I don't get enough time to play.' ... So it's an opportunity for those players to make a statement that they can be a difference-maker for us."

Video: NJD@PIT: Carter nets wrist shot for opening goal

Carter scored on a wrist shot from the right face-off circle to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 9:41 of the first period. The forward, who was acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings on April 12, scored his first goal for Pittsburgh in a 7-6 win against New Jersey on Tuesday.

Jared McCann made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 12:50. After Jake Guentzel tipped a shot from Kris Letang, McCann dove at the loose puck to poke it in for his 13th goal, seventh on the power play, this season.

Rust scored on a tip-in, extending the lead to 3-0 at 7:30 of the second period. Guentzel deflected a shot from Cody Ceci before it went off Rust for his 20th goal of the season.

Each player on Pittsburgh's top line (Crosby, Guentzel, Rust) has scored 20 goals. The Penguins are the first NHL team to have three players with at least that many goals this season. 

"I don't think [reaching 20 goals] is ever routine," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "It's hard to score 20 goals in this league. There's a lot of good players. There's a lot of good teams. It's hard to score 20 goals. I think guys that reach that milestone consistently are really good players." 

Video: NJD@PIT: Hughes tallies goal in 2nd period

Hughes cut it to 3-1 at 8:45 of the second. The puck slipped off teammate Yegor Sharangovich's stick and through the crease for a wrist shot from Hughes.

Wood scored on a one-timer to make it 3-2 at 10:58 of the third period. 

"We need to step up here and get a win," Wood said. "Because, quite frankly, I'm sick and tired of losing hockey games." 

NOTES: Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler was placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list Saturday. New Jersey was already without defenseman P.K. Subban, who has been in protocol since Tuesday. … Devils forward Janne Kuokkanen was scratched with a hand injury. … Penguins defenseman John Marino played his 100th NHL game. He had one blocked shot in 15:25 of ice time. 

Video: Penguins go top of division with win over Devils

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