The New Jersey Devils set the tone for Thursday’s game when they scored just 1:22 into the first period on their first shot of the game, and grabbing an early two-goal lead after the first 20 minutes. They didn’t let up for the remainder of the game, holding on for the remaining 40 minutes to come out with a 2-0 victory over the Penguins.
The Penguins just couldn’t get anything going against a stifling Devils squad that not only defended well, but also attacked with a vengeance. They involved all five of their skaters in every play, with goaltender Martin Brodeur handling the puck as much as possible and jumpstarting many of their breakouts. New Jersey rushed down the ice quickly and shot pucks hard and from every angle at Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson.
But while the Devils controlled play in the first, the Penguins weren’t about to roll over. They came out hard in the second and had some quality scoring chances. With the lines jumbled due to the absences of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins’ new combinations played well despite not getting on the scoreboard.
Maxime Talbot played a passionate hockey game for the Penguins on Thursday and was a dominant force all over the ice, starting in the faceoff dot.
The center put up an absolutely dominant performance off the draw, winning 13 of 16 faceoffs for an 81-percent success rate and losing just once through two periods.
He drove to the net in an effort to create offense while playing on a line with speedy Chris Conner and physical Mike Rupp, getting whistled twice for goaltender interference after getting tangled with Devils blueliners in an effort to crash the cage hard.
Talbot finished with 13:44 of ice time, 1:59 of that coming shorthanded. He even dropped the gloves with New Jersey’s Tim Sestito halfway through the third.
Although the Devils got on the board just 1:22 into the game, the Penguins had plenty of time to get the goal back. But Pittsburgh just couldn’t recover from the two-goal hole they found themselves in when Nick Palmieri got on the board with 10:09 left to play in the first period.
The Devils forward stole a puck from behind the Penguins net after a reverse attempt from Paul Martin didn’t have quite enough juice to reach the stick of Zbynek Michalek. He wheeled back to the front of the cage and backhandeded a shot past Brent Johnson for the score. The Devils then took a two-goal lead into the second period that the Penguins couldn’t find a way to erase for the remainder of the game.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Martin Brodeur and the suddenly revived New Jersey Devils took advantage of the absence of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Thursday night.
Brodeur had a a relatively easy night, stopping 23 shots in posting his fourth shutout of the season and the NHL regular-season record 114th of his career. Brian Rolston and rookie Nick Palmieri scored for the Devils, who have points in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1).
The loss snapped the Penguins' three-game winning streak and was only their sixth loss in 23 road games (14-6-3).
• Tonight marked the first time since the 2006-07 season – Evgeni Malkin’s rookie season – that both Malkin and Sidney Crosby have both been out of the lineup at the same time. The Penguins had played 437 consecutive regular-season and playoff games over that span with at least one of their two stars in the lineup. Crosby has missed seven games with a mild concussion, while Malkin has an undisclosed injury.
• The Penguins killed off all four Devils power plays on Thursday to give them 21 straight kills on the road. Pittsburgh has now been perfect on the penalty kill in seven of their last eight games, killing 30 of 32 opposition power plays for a 93.7-percent success rate.
• Maxime Talbot got whistled twice for goaltender interference, once in the waning minutes of the first period and again just 3:28 into of the second. Both times, he had been tangled with a New Jersey defender on the play before getting shoved into Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
• The Penguins had one power-play opportunity at the 5:27 mark of the third when Jason Arnott got sent off for hooking Matt Cooke, and Jordan Staal played all but two seconds of it. He saw 1:58 of time on the man-advantage, with his 21:02 total minutes leading all Penguins forwards.
• Three current Penguins dominated the Devils’ selections in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Paul Martin was taken first, going in the second round (62nd overall), while Mike Rupp got drafted just 14 picks later by the Devils, going in the third round (76th overall). New Jersey then selected Deryk Engelland in the sixth round (194th overall).