Sidney Crosby scored two goals and added an assist Thursday night to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at Mellon Arena.
The victory snapped a six-game losing skid for the Penguins (9-19-8). It was also their first win under new head coach Michel Therrien in five tries.
“We had a great start the first half of the game. We followed the plan really well,” Therrien said. “As coaches, we have to remind them we are doing some good stuff and we’re doing some stuff we need to work on. If they keep focusing on how we should play, eventually the result will be there. [Thursday] night was the first win and we’re going to have to build on that and make sure that our focus on the next game against the Rangers [on Saturday] will be there again.”
Tomas Surovy added two goals for Pittsburgh.
“We were hoping the advantage should come soon. The last couple games we were so close,” he said. “We believed in ourselves and we knew we could do it. We are happy we did it [Thursday] night. We’re hoping this is a turning point for us in the season.
“When you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you might lose some games, but eventually you are going to win games,” he continued. “That’s why we have to play our system. I believe in everybody here. We can turn this thing around.”
In the first period, the Penguins jumped to a 2-0 lead on Ric Jackman and Sidney Crosby goals.
Jackman ripped a one-timer past Scott Clemmensen for a power-play goal 5:42 into the game. Dick Tarnstrom and Erik Christensen earned the assists. Close to the near post, Christensen dished the puck to Tarnstrom at the near point; he slid it across to Jackman on the far point. He ripped it into the goal.
Crosby gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead with 1:47 left in the period. Tarnstrom and Jackman earned assists. Crosby, who was in front of the goal, slid the puck to Jackman, who turned and sent it to Tarnstrom between the face-off circles. He rifled a shot that Crosby deflected past Clemmensen.
Marc-Andre Fleury was sharp for the Penguins in the first period. He stopped several good New Jersey scoring chances, including a shorthanded breakaway.
Surovy boosted Pittsburgh’s lead to 3-0 just 6:11 into the second period. Ziggy Palffy and Maxime Talbot earned assists. Palffy and Surovy came down on a two-on-one. Surovy gave the puck to Palffy, who sent it back to Surovy. He wristed a shot that trickled through Clemmensen. It was Talbot’s first NHL assist.
Mark Recchi made it 4-0 1:44 later with a goal. Shane Endicott and John LeClair earned assists. Behind the net, LeClair fed a pass to Endicott near the far post. He sent a cross-crease pass to Recchi on the near post. He tapped it in for the goal.
New Jersey broke the shutout with a Scott Gomez power-play goal with 7:32 left in the period. On a two-man advantage, he slammed in his own rebound past Fleury.
“We kind of lost our focus for about 10 minutes in the second period,” Therrien said. “After that, I think the guys kind of followed the plan.”
Once again, Fleury made several acrobatic saves to limit the Devils to one goal.
Gomez cut New Jersey’s deficit to 4-2 3:13 into the third period. Off a two-on-one, he tapped Zach Parise’s pass into the net.
Surovy gave the Penguins a 5-2 edge 6:05 into the third. He and Crosby had a two-on-one and Surovy attempted to dish the puck to Crosby on the far side, but it defected off a New Jersey stick and into the goal. Palffy and Crosby got the assists.
The Devils had a two-man advantage about halfway through the third. Fleury made several key stops, including a sprawling full-extension glove save.
Crosby capped the scoring with 5:53 to play. He took a Palffy pass and was able to just slide it past Clemmensen on the near side.
Fleury picked up the win in goal as he stopped 44 of 46 shots.
ICE CHIPS: Lyle Odelein and Ryan Malone were the Penguins’ healthy scratches…Erik Rasmussen and Darren Langdon were the Devils’ healthy scratches…The announced attendance was 17,132, a standing room-only crowd…Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was in attendance...The game was the first NHL contest for Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong.