After a big 5-2 win over the Rangers on Monday, Pittsburgh entered Tuesday’s matchup with the Devils one point ahead in the standings, with both teams still in contention for a playoff spot.

The Penguins built on that lead with a 6-3 comeback victory at Prudential Center, scoring five unanswered goals in the third to gain even more ground.

"The power-play goal (from the captain) got us going. Just making it a one-goal game, we know anything can happen,” said Rickard Rakell, who was credited with the game-winner. “Then, just play hockey.”

They’ve spoken often about the importance of that next play, next shift, next game mentality as they've fought to stay alive, trying not to waver from that mindset regardless of the results – and it helped the Penguins get results in this divisional back-to-back that had big ramifications. They are now three points behind Washington, with a showdown in the nation's capital set for Thursday.

“Yeah, just keep doing what we're doing, I think that's the message,” Sidney Crosby said. “I think that we feel like we've done some good things, we're working hard, everybody's contributing – especially at a big time of year like this, that's what you need. So, just try to continue the momentum here.”

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each tallied twice in the third, with Rakell’s goal sandwiched between the Two-Headed Monster’s bursts. Erik Karlsson scored in the first.

“I thought it was a gutsy effort by our guys,” Head Coach Mike Sullivan said. “We could tell early on we didn't have a lot of energy. We just didn't have a lot of juice tonight; it was one of those nights where sometimes you play against the schedule a little bit. That game last night in New York took a lot a lot out of our guys. I give our players a lot of credit, we hung in there and we dug in.

Sullivan speaks with the media

“I don't know that I've experienced what we've experienced the last couple of nights with some of the guys getting sick the way they did, and just finding ways to compete and play through it - it's a real good feeling."

Alex Nedeljkovic started for the second night in a row – and the sixth consecutive game – as Tristan Jarry remained under the weather, with Pittsburgh’s 2020 second-round draft pick Joel Blomqvist coming from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to back up.

After making 28 saves at Madison Square Garden, Nedeljkovic said afterward he’d be ready to go if he got the call tonight. It showed in his play, as the netminder was sharp between the pipes as the Devils outplayed the Penguins in the first two periods, building a 3-1 lead that could have been bigger if it weren't for Nedeljkovic's efforts.

“He made some big saves for us to keep it within striking distance,” Sullivan said. “As I said to the guys after the second period, if we can get the next one, we get it in striking distance, now, we give ourselves a chance. Let's just find a way here. That's what happened. I thought Ned was a big part of it.

“He's a fierce competitor. I've said that on a number of occasions. He just battles. Tonight was no different.”

And the captain got that next one to start the comeback.

“I think just desperation,” Crosby said of the mindset. “I think we knew it was going to be an uphill climb there, but it was good to get one of the power play. Karl made a great play to keep that play alive and give us a chance. Then, just putting pucks to the net."

Jack St. Ivany recorded the first point of his NHL career when his shot deflected off Malkin's leg and changed direction on Devils goalie Jake Allen. Michael Bunting made sure to grab the puck for the rookie defenseman, who's impressed with his steady play since being inserted into the lineup

“It felt awesome," St. Ivany said. "I’m probably more excited about the win than the point, but I’ll take it. That was a pretty awesome play. Set play off the faceoff, and a pretty cool guy to get the assist with the goal.”

The Penguins later rattled off three goals in less than a minute. Rakell - who finished +4 in the game - tipped a shot from his buddy Marcus Pettersson to put Pittsburgh ahead for the first time at the 16:16 mark. At the 16:38 mark, Malkin was right at the blue paint to finish off a feed from Bunting. Finally, at the 17:07 mark, Crosby deposited a puck into the open net. His point streak is now at six games, piling up six goals and 15 points over that span.

Some of the guys mentioned how the feeling in the room is so much better, and their confidence is so much higher after gutting out a couple of big wins over divisional opponents.

“I think our guys are excited because we're playing meaningful hockey, and we're trying to give ourselves a chance, we're trying to stay in the fight,” Sullivan said. “As I've said to them, anything can happen. Let's just focus on the one game in front of us. Let's try to take care of business each and every night and see where it goes.”