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Aftermath: Devils 4, Penguins 1

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh came out strong early in the contest, perhaps energized from returning to the friendly confines of Mellon Arena following a four-game, 10-day road swing. They generated early chances and tallied the opening score for the first time in six games when Ruslan Fedotenko jammed home a rebound during a scramble at 11:32 of the opening period. Pittsburgh held a 9-7 shots advantage after the first 20 minutes.

The Penguins battled hard all night despite their depleted lineup, probably deserving a much better fate than they received. The game changed during a late Devils’ power play with less than two minutes remaining in the second period. Andy Greene’s harmless shot from the point caromed off Ben Lovejoy in front and landed in the back of the net.

Minutes after Zach Parise stretched New Jersey’s lead to 3-1 4:43 into the final frame. Sidney Crosby first hit the crossbar on a spectacular spinning backhander, then watched Martin Brodeur make a flailing save with his glove seconds later on a near goal. If Crosby gets one of those shots into the back of the net and revved up the home faithful, who knows what could have happened down the stretch. Good things are going to happen soon with the way the Penguins have upped their compete-level their previous two games.
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Niclas Bergfors had a goal and two assists and the New Jersey Devils closed within a victory of tying the NHL record of 10 consecutive road victories to start a season, beating the slumping Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Thursday night.

Zach Parise added a goal and an assist, Travis Zajac had three assists and Martin Brodeur made 25 saves as New Jersey improved to 9-0 on the road. The Devils can tie the road streak record Monday in Philadelphia.

The Penguins celebrate Ruslan Fedotenko's first-period goal
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Crosby-Bourque-Fedotenko
An in-game shift by head coach Dan Bylsma saw Chris Bourque join Sidney Crosby and Ruslan Fedotenko. The move paid immediate dividends with the Penguins’ only score of the night. Stats do not tell how well the line came together, as the speed and playmaking ability of Bourque meshed well with Crosby and Fedotenko. They combined for 11 of Pittsburgh’s 26 shots.

What Could Have Gone Better: More Shots Through
The Penguins managed to outshoot the Devils by a slim 26-25 margin but it was the shots that didn’t make it onto net that could’ve provided a difference, although it wasn’t for a lack of effort. New Jersey stepped in front of 23 Penguin shots. With pucks not finding the twine as often as they were early in the season, more shots on net could’ve given the Penguins more rebound opportunities, as their overall net presence was more evident against the Devils. 
Chris Bourque looked at home spending a majority of this game on the wing with Sidney Crosby and Ruslan Fedotenko. Bourque was in front of the net jamming away at a Crosby rebound in the first period, eventually slammed home by Fedotenko. In the second period Bourque made a great play behind the New Jersey net to shield a defender and find Crosby open in the slot, only to watch Martin Brodeur flash the glove to prevent the score.

Possessing the speed and offensive flair required to keep up with the talented Crosby, Bourque was a factor all night. His play in the neutral zone during the third period to beat a Devil to the puck and chip it ahead to Crosby led to one of the Penguins’ best chances. He had two hits and one takeaway while recording a plus-1 rating.
Pittsburgh tallied the opening score by crashing Martin Brodeur’s net following a backhander from Sidney Crosby. Chris Bourque took an initial crack at the rebound and Ruslan Fedotenko took two more, capitalizing on the second to push the puck over the line. Pittsburgh 1, New Jersey 0.

Pressure in the far corner of the Pittsburgh end led to Zach Parise stealing the puck from the Penguins and feeding a wide open Nicklas Bergfors in the slot. Bergfors low wrist shot beat Fleury to knot the score. Pittsburgh 1, New Jersey 1.

New Jersey took their first lead with the man-advantage. Andy Greene’s shot from the center point deflected off the skate of Pittsburgh’s Ben Lovejoy just outside the crease and squirted into the net behind Fleury. New Jersey 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Travis Zajac stole the puck in front of the Penguins bench just outside the blue line and carried the puck into the offensive zone, throwing a pass under Alex Goligoski to the stick of Parise. The Devils’ sharp shooter fired a snap shot across the grain over the shoulder of Fleury. New Jersey 3, Pittsburgh 1.

David Clarkson capped the scoring for New Jersey when he won a foot-race to a loose puck along the wall in the Penguins zone and sent a backhander into an open net with Fleury pulled for a sixth attacker. New Jersey 4, Pittsburgh 1.
With Brooks Orpik now sidelined the next two weeks with a lower-body injury, the Penguins were forced to recall Ben Lovejoy from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In his third career game Lovejoy posted an even rating playing a career-high 16:13. He was paired with Martin Skoula at even strength. Alex Goligoski and Jay McKee remained a tandem as Mark Eaton matched up with Deryk Engelland.

Pittsburgh used more of a moving umbrella look with the man-advantage. In a strategy first devolved during the morning skate, the Penguins had either Sidney Crosby or Jordan Staal float back to the point-area alongside Alex Goligoski and Ruslan Fedotenko while the other player joined Bill Guerin as a screen. Goligoski fired two shots from the center point in this formation during a late first-period power play and Crosby drifted out to the right side and got good wood on a shot in the third period.

Head coach Dan Bylsma threw together a surprise unit at the outset of the game as Crosby was joined at the opening faceoff with Staal flanking him to his left and Mike Rupp playing the right side. Following that shift Pittsburgh returned to their usual offensive combinations.

Jay McKee had his 100th career assist for a couple minutes in the first period, but a scoring change later credited Chris Bourque with the helper, keeping McKee at 99.
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, R. Fedotenko (4), 11:32 1st period: Penguins 1, Devils 0
NJ, N. Bergfors (5), 13:50 2nd period: Penguins 1, Devils 1
NJ, A. Greene PP (3), 18:50 2nd period: Devils 2, Penguins 1
NJ, Z. Parise (9), 4:43 3rd period: Devils 3, Penguins 1
NJ, D. Clarkson (6), 1958 3rd period: Devils 4, Penguins 1

> Thursday night marked the Penguins’ annual “Score Against Hunger” food drive. All fans who brought a non-perishable food item or made a cash donation were eligible to win Penguins’ memorabilia. Since 1992 fans have donated over 28,000 pounds of food and $25,600 in cash.

> Pittsburgh continues their three-game home stand by playing host to the Boston Bruins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night. The stretch concludes with a matchup with Anaheim on Monday night at 7:30 p.m.

> The Penguins are now 30-10-4 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 15-5-1 at Mellon Arena.

> Pittsburgh fell for the first time under Bylsma when scoring the opening goal. They had previously been 22-0-2 when scoring first, including an 8-0 mark this season.

> Sidney Crosby’s assist on Ruslan Fedotenko’s first-period score ended his five-game scoring draught. Crosby continues to pace the Penguins in scoring with 17 points (9G-8A).

> In addition to his first-period goal, Ruslan Fedotenko led the Penguins with a season-high six shots on goal.

> Alex Goligoski ranks tied for fourth in the league with a plus-11 rating through Thursday’s early games. Goligoski is tied with Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf and Atlanta’s Zach Bogosian for the league-lead among defensemen with six goals.
1. N. Bergfors
2. T. Zajac
3. Z. Parise
"We just need to regroup, focus where we did good
in this game and address where we didn’t
do as well, and just focus on
the next game."

-Ruslan Fedotenko


Author: Jason Seidling

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