Brian Gionta scored two goals to lift the New Jersey Devils to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena on Thursday.
The defeat keeps the Penguins (0-3-4) as the NHL’s only team without a victory.
“I am disappointed because of the way that we practiced and where I thought that we were heading into the game,” Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk said. “It all comes down to execution. The out executed us.”
Rookie Sidney Crosby’s scoring streak ended at six games. He had recorded a point in every NHL game he had played until Thursday night.
The bright spot for the Penguins came in the second period when Dick Tarnstrom and Mario Lemieux scored second-period goals in a span of 29 seconds to erase a 2-0 deficit as Pittsburgh stormed back. However, New Jersey emerged with a 4-2 lead at the second intermission on a pair of power-play goals.
“We fought our way back,” Olczyk said. “Then we took back-to-back penalties. We gave them an unbelievable opportunity from the top of the circle and they took the lead. We were slow to cover [on the two goals].”
In the first period, Jay Pandolfo wristed a shot past Jocelyn Thibault with 9:13 left in the first period to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. Jamie Langenbrunner and Sean Brown assisted on the goal.
Scott Gomez pushed the New Jersey advantage to 2-0 when he took a drop pass and fired it past Thibault with 1:56 on the clock. Gionta and Brian Rafalski notched the assists.
Dan McGillis had a chance to boost New Jersey’s lead to 3-0 about five minutes into the second period. Coming out of the penalty box, he took a long pass and slipped free for a breakaway. However, Thibault stopped him to end the threat.
Tarnstrom got on the scoreboard with 11:46 left in the period. He took a cross-ice pass from Mark Recchi and slammed it past Martin Brodeur.
Lemieux tied the game at 2-2 just 29 seconds later when he one-timed a Ziggy Palffy pass through Brodeur’s legs. It brought the crowd to its feet. Brooks Orpik earned the other assist.
However, Lemieux was whistled for a tripping penalty and New Jersey answered quickly. Vladimir Malakhov ripped a slap-shot past Thibault for a power-play goal 31 seconds later for a 3-2 lead.
The Devils (4-3-0) posted a 4-2 lead with 3:46 left on the clock when Gionta tallied a power-play goal.
Gionta scored 1:41 into the second period to boost New Jersey’s lead to 5-2.
Alexander Mogilny made it 6-2 just 17 seconds later when he slid the puck past Thibault near the far post. The goal chased Thibault, who was replaced by Sebastien Caron.
Pittsburgh’s Ric Jackman scored a power-play goal 8:43 into the third period. Recchi and Lemieux earned assists.
The Penguins return to action Saturday when they travel to Boston.
ICE CHIPS – Rob Scuderi, Lasse Pirjeta and Ryan VandenBussche were the Penguins’ scratches…Colin White, Erik Rasmussen and Darren Langdon were the Devils’ scratches…The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins travel to Syracuse on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. contest.