The Penguins exorcised several demons with Monday afternoon’s 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
First, the Penguins picked up their first win of the 2010-11 season, erasing all those questions of when they will get that elusive first victory. Second, they ended the Devils’ six-game winning streak over them, removing a huge psychological barrier in the process.
The Penguins beat the Devils for the first time since April 1, 2009 (6-1 at Mellon Arena) because of a total team effort at both ends of the rink. Goaltender Brent Johnson was spectacular in goal, stopping 30 shots; the team’s defensemen continue to excel at both ends of the rink – especially playing most of the game without an injured Zbynek Michalek; and the forwards did a great job getting shots and traffic on Martin Brodeur – making life miserable on him for the first time in a while.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma elected to give Brent Johnson his first start of the season on Monday afternoon and the reward was a 30-save performance to help the Penguins pick up their first win of the season. Johnson’s best work came in the third period, when he denied 14 of the 15 shots the Devils threw his way.
Some of Johnson's best sequence came early in the second period when he stopped Jason Arnott's drive from the slot and the rebound by Matt Taormina.
Johnson even tried taking a crack at the empty net with just under a minute to play.
Pittsburgh outplayed New Jersey from the outset of the game, but the fact that neither team could find the back of the other’s net for most of the first period kept the Devils in the game. That all changed at 18:56 when Eric Tangradi forced an Ilya Kovalchuk turnover at the New Jersey blueline, allowing Alex Goligoski to swoop in, steal the puck and blow a slap shot off Martin Brodeur’s glove into the net. That goal was huge for the Penguins, who often have trouble when they have to play behind against New Jersey.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Alex Goligoski and Mark Letestu scored goals within a three-minute span covering the first and second periods to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the undermanned New Jersey Devils on Monday.
• The Penguins received bad news before the game when defenseman Brooks Orpik had to be ruled out of the lineup due to an undisclosed injury. That misfortune was compounded during the second period when Zbynek Michalek was knocked from the lineup for the remainder of the game. The five remaining healthy blueliners stepped up and turned in a remarkable performance under adverse conditions.
• Our thanks to FSN for this interesting nugget. Mark Letestu’s second-period power-play marker was the Penguins’ first man-advantage tally against New Jersey since Ryan Malone on March 25, 2008.
• Craig Adams might still be looking for his first regular-season goal with the Penguins, but plays like the one he made with 3:12 remaining in the contest prove his value to this team. Travis Zajac had Johnson out of position and was ready to toss the puck into an open cage when Adams emerged into the blue paint and knocked the puck away, securing the victory.
• It was a stroke of bad luck which allowed the Devils to pick up their only goal of the game. Penguins center Mark Letestu had his stick break on him as he took the faceoff against Jason Arnott, which allowed Arnott to win the puck back to Patrik Elias who buried the shot.