NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - Paul Martin
played 400 career NHL games in a New Jersey Devils sweater, with many of them inside the Prudential Center. He made a triumphant return in his first appearance against his former team in the Penguins 3-1 win Monday evening.
“It was a weird feeling coming up today and all day,” Martin said. “I didn’t know what to expect, and how everyone would react. You see some familiar faces. I had a lot of good memories here. It’s always tough, but you put that behind you. I’m a Penguin now.”
And as a Penguin, Martin keyed his new squad to victory, snapping a six-game losing streak to New Jersey, with a goal and an assist. In a moment of poetic justice, Martin sealed the win by adding an empty-net goal to silence the 12,888 crowd that had booed him throughout the game.
“I knew that I had time and the puck was rolling on its end,” Martin said of his goal. “I saw (Craig) Adams a little late and thought I could pass it. It kind of rolled into the net.”
It was a nicer return for Martin. But to him, he was happier with the outcome than his individual performance.
“It was just good to get the win,” Martin said. “That’s the biggest thing.”
JOHNNY ON THE SPOT
Goaltender Brent Johnson
made his first start of the season for Pittsburgh, and he turned in a remarkable outing. Johnson turned aside 30-of-31 shots against and stood tall in net for the Penguins.
“This is a building he played well in last year. We wanted to get him in a game. He came in and played a stellar game,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He was strong, made some good saves, was good playing the puck in the end of the game to help us prevent them from getting some pressure. It’s great to have Johnson come in and gives us that effort.”
Johnson was particularly impressive in the third period with the Penguins clinging to a 2-1 lead. He stopped 14 shots in the last period. Johnson was strong between the pipes during a New Jersey onslaught halfway through the period after the Devils attempted a really after scoring their lone goal.
“I felt really good. It was a complete team effort,” Johnson said. “It was just fantastic. (The Devils) started pouring it on in the third, after they got that goal. They were shooting from everyone and driving to the net. We did a great job of clearing second opportunities and not given them many chances.”
They were buzzing around and getting chances. Johnny was great in the third period, great all game. We were able to hold them off.
We buckled down in the third after they scored that first one. They put a little pressure on us. With five D we did a good job of keeping the shifts short and making smart plays with the puck, chipping it up the ice. That helps when you’re short your two top defensemen.
The Penguins pulled off their 3-1 win at New Jersey despite missing their two top defensive players – and defensive shutdown unit. Brooks Orpik
was scratched prior to the game. Pittsburgh then lost Zbynek Michalek
in the second period.
“You always worry about good players not being in your lineup,” Bylsma said. “Both (Orpik) and Zbynek will be re-evaluated in Pittsburgh before we know where they’re at.”
The Penguins pulled together with only five defenseman. The gutsy effort resulted with a big ‘W’ in the standings.
“With a short bench all the guys were pulling together and holding out for the win,” Johnson said. “(The Devils) were flying on all cylinders. I knew they were going to shoot and go to the net hard. I wanted to make the first stop. I didn’t really need to make a second. The guys were great in front of the net. All night our PK was excellent. It didn’t allow them much. We’re very happy with what we did tonight.”