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Aftermath: Devils 3, Penguins 1

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins


Photos: Devils 3, Penguins 1
Blog: Pens vs. Devils Game Blog
Pittsburgh did a lot of positive things against the Devils on Friday night at Prudential Center, but again it was Martin Brodeur who was the great equalizer in goal for New Jersey. The Penguins had the better of the shots, 35-32, and quality scoring chances, yet Brodeur was nearly unbeatable once again, making 34 saves in improving to 5-0 this season against the Penguins. He has stopped 158 of the 161 shots the Penguins have thrown his way in ’09-10.

Pittsburgh was able to accomplish all this despite the fact that New Jersey spent the majority of the second period on the man-advantage thanks to a five-minute major and two minor infractions on Pittsburgh. The Penguins penalty killers came up huge once again in not allowing New Jersey to score.

This is two games in a row against New Jersey where the Penguins have slightly outplayed the Devils, so Pittsburgh should feel confident heading into the series finale against New Jersey next Wednesday. The Penguins are close to cracking Brodeur, they just have to keep doing what they did on this night and the bounces will turn in their favor.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists to snap out of a scoring slump and the New Jersey Devils beat the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins for the fifth straight time, 3-1 on Friday night.

Martin Brodeur made 33 saves for his 37th win of the season and 594th overall.

Marc-Andre Fleury denies Ilya Kovalchuk's shot on a second-period penalty-shot attmept.
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Penalty Killing
Pittsburgh’s penalty-killing unit once again came through, especially in the second period. The Penguins killed off all four New Jersey man-advantage situations, including all three assessed in the second period. Included in that was a five-minute charging major where the Devils were booed after the Penguins actually had the better of the scoring chances.

What Could Have Gone Better: Tough Calls
Two calls by the referees which went against the Penguins had a major factor in the outcome of this contest. First, Craig Adams was given a major penalty for charging in the second period, helping to wear out the Penguins penalty killers one night after an overtime game in Carolina. Second, Travis Zajac appeared to hit the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury as he was about to catch Ilya Kovalchuk’s snap shot in the third period. No penalty was called as Kovalchuk’s shot got under the glove of Fleury to make it 3-1 Devils.
Marc-Andre Fleury said before the Penguins left for this five-game road trip that he wanted to have a good night against the Devils after what he called were three subpar showings earlier in the season. Fleury was great on Friday, stopping 29 of the 32 New Jersey shots. His best saves were a pad save on Ilya Kovalchuk’s penalty-shot attempt and a diving stop on Jamie Langenbrunner in the third period when he stacked his pads. Fleury has been in a groove over his past three starts as he continues to play some of his best hockey in the month of March.
New Jersey took advantage of a fortuitous bounce 1:43 into the contest as Andy Greene’s shot from the point missed the net wide to the left of Marc-Andre Fleury and skidded back into the slot. Patrik Elias picked up the biscuit and threw a shot into the cage for his 12th goal of the season. New Jersey 1, Pittsburgh 0.

The Devils’ lead didn’t last long as the Penguins evened the score 42 seconds later. Sidney Crosby played catch with Chris Kunitz on a two-on-one before firing a shot through the legs of Martin Brodeur from the right circle for his league-leading 45th goal of the season. Pittsburgh 1, New Jersey 1.

Greene gave the Devils the lead for good 2:06 into the third period when he drilled a shot over the glove of Fleury from the top of the right circle. Fleury made the original save on Ilya Kovalchuk but the rebound made its way out to an uncovered Greene. New Jersey 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Kovalchuk gave the Devils some insurance at 9:59 when his turning snap shot from the center point eluded the glove of Fleury. The Penguins disputed this goal because Travis Zajac hit Fleury’s glove as he was about to catch Kovalchuk’s shot, but the referees didn’t agree. New Jersey 3, Pittsburgh 1.
Marc-Andre Fleury came up huge not once but twice on Ilya Kovalchuk with 1:49 remaining in the second period. Kovalchuk, playing his first game against the Penguins as a Devil, got behind the Pittsburgh defense on a breakaway. Fleury stayed with him to make a left-pad save, but a penalty shot was called on the play. Kovalchuk tried going five-hole on that attempt, but Fleury again used his left pad to make the save.

For the second-straight game head coach Dan Bylsma rotated right wingers Bill Guerin and Pascal Dupuis between the Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal units. Dupuis started the game with Crosby and Chris Kunitz, while Guerin played with Staal and Matt Cooke. The two later flip-flopped later in the game.
> Scoring Summary:
NJ, P. Elias (12), 1:43 1st period: Devils 1, Penguins 0
PIT, S. Crosby (45), 2:25 1st period: Penguins 1, Devils 1
NJ, A. Greene (6), 2:06 3rd period: Devils 2, Penguins 1
NJ, I. Kovalchuk (35), 9:59 3rd period: Devils 3, Penguins 1

> New Jersey might have picked up their fifth win of the season against the Penguins, but it is Pittsburgh who still holds a two-point lead over the Devils in the race for the Atlantic Division crown, 85-83. These two teams will complete their season series on March 17 at Prudential Center.

> Pittsburgh’s loss ended their unbeaten streak at nine games (5-0-4). They are currently 0-1-1 on their season-long five-game road swing. The trek continues Sunday in Tampa Bay before concluding with a trip back to New Jersey next Wednesday and a visit to Boston the following night.

> The Penguins are now 58-26-9 all-time in the regular season under head coach Dan Bylsma.

> Sidney Crosby notched his league-leading 45th goal of the season in the first period, extending his scoring streak to eight games. Crosby has 12 points (6G-6A) during the streak. He also has picked up points in 16 of his past 18 games for a total of 29 points (15G-14A) during the stretch.

> Chris Kunitz assisted on Crosby’s goal, giving him six points (2G-4A) over his past five games.

> Pascal Dupuis extended his scoring streak to a season-high four games with a helper on Crosby’s tally. Dupuis has picked up five points (2G-3A) during the streak.  
1. A. Greene
2. I. Kovalchuk
3. M. Brodeur
"The ref said he didn't hit my glove. I told him he did
and the ref said no."

- Marc-Andre Fleury


Author: Jason Seidling

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