The Penguins-Devils contest Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center became a battle of special teams.
New Jersey scored on a penalty shot and power play to take a 2-0 lead after the first period. Pittsburgh was never able to overcome that two-goal deficit. The Penguins struck with a man-advantage score in the third period for a late charge to cut the lead to 2-1.
But Pittsburgh couldn’t manage to get that second goal to tie the game. The Devils added an empty-netter in the final seconds to close out the scoring in their 3-1 win.
Despite the setback, the Pens really carried the play for most of the game, but couldn’t solve Martin Brodeur.
“We were pretty happy with all three periods when we stayed out of the box,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “We were happy with the way we played 5-on-5. The penalties gave them momentum and spotted them a two-goal lead. It’s tough to come back.”
The Devils struck first with a penalty shot in the final five minutes of the first period. The play started when Adam Larsson took a shot that went off the post and fell in the crease. There was a cluster in front of the goal and the referees ruled the Pens Orpik closed his hand on the puck to push it out of danger.
“It happened so quick I thought I just swept it out,” Orpik said. “I’ll have to see a replay.”
New Jersey used the dangerous Ilya Kovalchuk to shoot. He carried the puck on net with speed, deked in the slot to get goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
to open his legs and then fired a quick shot through the five-hole for the score.
The Pens were in penalty trouble late in the first period and it would cost them. Arron Asham
was called for a pair of penalties (high sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct) and Jordan Staal
was whistled for slashing.
Pittsburgh was down two men in the final minute-plus of the first period with their best penalty killing forward in the box.
The Devils took advantage. Patrik Elias’ shot hit the post and bounced in the crease. David Clarkson was in the right place at the right time to slam in the rebound to make it a 2-0 game for the Devils with only 23 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
The star of the game against the Devils was Fleury. He wasn’t tested often – making 18 saves in the contest – but all 18 stops he made were high quality chances. His reflexes were lightning quick and he made big saves to keep the Pens in the game – particularly a phenomenal split-pad save in third period on Elias to keep it a one-goal game.
was outstanding, really outstanding,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “After the penalty shot goal he made a save on (Zach) Parise shorthanded. Unfortunately, they got the 5-on-3 off the post. There were a number of other big saves and two in the third to keep it a one-goal game and give us a chance.”
The Penguins injuries mounted as two more forwards went down against the Devils. Pittsburgh was short-benched when Pascal Dupuis
(upper body) and Arron Asham
(lower body) both left the game and did not return.
Author: Sam Kasan