The Penguins suffered another setback to their already decimated lineup when defenseman Kris Letang was assessed a game misconduct just over six minutes into the first period in Friday’s game against New Jersey. Letang had skated for a mere 1:57 minutes when it was determined that his jersey was not tied down after a fight with the Devils’ Travis Zajac, which sent him to the dressing room for the remainder of the game per league rules.
The Penguins had to finish the game with just five defensemen, but they didn’t miss a beat. Pittsburgh surrendered just one goal in regulation in a tight defensive effort to take the game to overtime. And despite falling 2-1 in the extra period, the Penguins battled their way to another crucial point in the standings.
The Penguins played with a perfect blend of patience and aggressiveness, not giving the Devils any power-play opportunities during regulation. Not only did they wait for the Devils to make mistakes before capitalizing on their lapses in judgment, but Pittsburgh also forechecked hard and brought a physical edge to the game.
Pittsburgh is now within four points of Philadelphia for both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leads.
Defenseman Kris Letang, who leads the Penguins with an average of 23:43 minutes per game, was assessed a game misconduct just over six minutes into the opening period. That meant the rest of the Penguins’ blueliners had to shoulder the load – and none stepped up to the plate more so than Paul Martin.
Martin logged a jaw-dropping 35:26 of ice time in just his second game back after missing four straight contests with an upper-body injury and was a huge reason why the Penguins surrendered just one goal during regulation.
The Penguins had two power-play opportunities, and Martin played for 3:32 of those four possible minutes. He also skated for the duration of the Devils’ lone power-play opportunity in the overtime period.
Martin, who played six seasons for the Devils before signing a five-year contract with Pittsburgh in the offseason, finished the night with three blocked shots, one hit and two shots.
After a solid first period by the Penguins that saw them controlling the pace of the game, the momentum shifted quickly when Travis Zajac got the Devils on the board just 3:43 into the middle frame.
But the Penguins kept plugging away, and their efforts paid off when New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk mishandled the puck on the half wall in his own zone.
Tyler Kennedy swooped in and pounced on the loose rubber and had all the time in the world to skate in on Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. He blistered a wrister past Brodeur that evened the score at 1-1 and got Pittsburgh right back in the game.
The Penguins were able to keep the score knotted through the rest of regulation and earned a crucial point in the standings in the overtime period.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Ilya Kovalchuk scored on a power play with 24.9 seconds left in overtime and the New Jersey Devils continued their remarkable playoff push with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
The goal was the second straight winner for the $100 million man, his sixth in the last 12 games and his ninth of the season.
More importantly, it gave New Jersey its 19th win in 23 games (19-2-2) and handed the injury ravaged Penguins their eighth loss in 10 games (2-5-3).
Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, while Tyler Kennedy tallied for Pittsburgh, which continues to play without Sidney Crosby (concussion).
- After dropping the gloves with New Jersey’s Travis Zajac at the 6:14 mark of the first period that garnered them both five-minute fighting majors, defenseman Kris Letang was also assessed a game misconduct after it was determined that his jersey was not tied down.
- Rule 46.13 in the “Fighting” section of the NHL’s Official Rulebook states “A player who engages in a fight and whose jersey is removed (completely off his torso), other than through the actions of his opponent in the altercation or through the actions of the Linesman, shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty. A player who engages in a fight and whose jersey is not properly ‘tied-down’ (jersey properly fastened to pants), and who loses his jersey (completely off his torso) in that altercation, shall receive a game misconduct penalty.
- Tyler Kennedy’s unassisted goal with 14:02 remaining in the second period was his 15th of the season, tying his previous career-high set in 2008-09 through 67 games. He pounced on a defensive-zone turnover by New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk to beat Devils goalie Martin Brodeur with a scorching wrister to tie the game 1-1.
- Neither team got a power-play opportunity until New Jersey’s Dainius Zubrus was whistled for hi-sticking with 5:57 remaining in the second period. The Devils are one of the league’s least-penalized teams, averaging just 10.5 minutes in the sin bin per game – a number that ranks fifth in the league. The Devils were whistled one other time in the game, when Colin White got a pair for boarding with 12:27 remaining in that same period.
- New Jersey's lone power-play opportunity of the game came in overtime, when defenseman Zbynek Michalek was whistled for hooking with 2:14 left in the extra period. Ilya Kovalchuk netted the game winner with 11 seconds remaining on the Devils power play to get his team the 2-1 victory.
#1. Ilya Kovalchuk
Left Wing - 17
GWG in OT
#2. Tyler Kennedy
Right Wing - 48
#3. Travis Zajac
Center - 19
14 of 18 faceoffs (78%)
Author: Michelle Crechiolo