Jake Guentzel scored the empty netter with one remaining but not before looking around for Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. Crosby remains stuck at 499 career goals, but the salve was the Penguins’ third straight win. Mike Matheson and Brian Boyle had one goal and one assist in the Penguins’ 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center Sunday afternoon.
Boyle was a force for the Penguins.
Midway through the third period, the Penguins had a few great chances and near misses. After a scrambly power play in which the Penguins had New Jersey goalie Jon Gillies down and out but couldn’t finish, the Penguins grinders kept charging. A couple of minutes after the power play, Boyle nearly scored when his writer from the left circle trickled wide, but he didn’t give up.
A moment later, Boyle (6) staked his position in front of the Devils net and buried Mike Matheson’s rebound.
It was the second point for each Boyle and Matheson. The Penguins’ fourth line with Boyle, Zach Aston-Reese, and Dominik Simon accounted for two Penguins goals.
Bryan Rust scored his 16th goal in his last 16 games. Less than one minute into the third period, Rust scored moments after the Penguins power play expired. Near the front of the net, Rust was uncovered and easily deflected Kris Letang’s shot-pass.
The goal gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead and the ability to play with the lead but for only a couple of minutes.
Nico Hischier scored when his shot ping-ponged off Letang in the slot, off the post, then off Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.
In the first period, Sidney Crosby had a few chances for his 500th career goal. Crosby led all players with three shots in the opening period, and two of them were scoring chances. The teams took a while to get into the game–with just six minutes remaining in the period, the shots were only 5-4 for the Penguins. The teams finished the period 8-8.
Jack Hughes broke the scoreless tie early in the second period. Penguins defenseman John Marino fell at center ice, and New Jersey transitioned with a three-on-two. Hughes (13) was wide on the left wing and beat Jarry on the short side.
One minute before Hughes scored, New Jersey put the puck in the net, but officials waved it off. New Jersey defenseman P.K. Subban whizzed past Brian Dumoulin for a quick breakaway. However, Jarry stopped Subban, who landed on top of him. Even though New Jersey put the puck into the net, officials immediately ruled Jarry could not play his position.
Mike Matheson (7) tied the game later in the second period as the Penguins fourth line continued to work the puck low and grind New Jersey. Brian Boyle worked the low-to-high game, and Matheson blasted a shot past Gillies from about 40 feet.
Like Thursday night, the game ticked away at lightning speed as both teams took only two penalties in the first 40 minutes, nor were there many whistles. The first two periods were completed in less than 90 minutes.
Jarry stopped 28 of 30 shots. Gillies, a journeyman until getting an emergency shot with the Devils this season, turned aside 19 of the first 20 and 31 of 34. In the first two periods, the teams were nearly even in scoring chances (15-14, New Jersey), though there were few high-danger scoring chances.
After 40 minutes, New Jersey led the shot clock only 4-3. The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have a high-danger chance in the second period.
Crosby didn’t get goal No. 500, but he was one of three Penguins with four shots. Evgeni Malkin returned to the Penguins lineup for the first time since he was placed in COVID protocol during the All-Star break. He had one shot on goal, one giveaway, but three takeaways.