NEWARK, N.J. — It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise when New Jersey beat the Pittsburgh Penguins Dec. 30 at PPG Paints Arena.
Not because the Penguins were coming off a gut punch of a defeat by Detroit, when they squandered a 4-0 lead in what became a 5-4 overtime loss, or even because they were playing without their top two right-side defensemen, Kris Letang and Jeff Petry.
And not simply because the Devils’ lineup is loaded with speed and some highly skilled young players like Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier, among others.
Rather, what should have made New Jersey the favorite in that game was that it was playing on the road, and the Devils almost never lose there in 2022-23.
They are 18-2-2 in away games this season, a major reason they are solidly in second place in the Metropolitan Division, a full nine points ahead of the fifth-place Penguins.
Want another reason the Devils are second in the Metro?
How about their 11-10-2 record at home?
Fact is, if the Devils were anywhere near as successful at the Prudential Center, where they will face the Penguins today at 2:08 p.m., as they have been on the road, they might be atop the overall standings at this point.
New Jersey will be playing its first game at home after a 4-0-1 road trip, but is just 1-7 in its past 11 at home. The Devils haven’t fared very well on home ice against the Penguins in recent years, either, losing five in a row there.
If the Penguins, coming off a strong showing in their 4-1 victory against Ottawa Friday, can get an early lead, they might be able to exploit whatever doubts New Jersey might have about its ability to pick up points at home.
One big caveat to all of this: the Penguins are just 1-5-1 in their past seven away games, so they’ve had almost as much trouble on the road as the Devils have had at home.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Expected New Jersey Devils Lines, per PuckPedia.com
Penguins power play: 34 for 160, 21.3%, 17th
Penguins penalty-kill: 27 for 149, 81.9%, 7th
Devils power play: 28 for 137, 20.4%, 21st
Devils penalty-kill: 27 for 141, 80.8%, 10th
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
Tristan Jarry has earned at least one point in 15 of his past 17 decisions, going 12-2-3.
Sidney Crosby averages 1.31 points per game in afternoon games, the fifth-highest figure in NHL history. Mario Lemieux is atop that list at 1.55.
Jason Zucker has a goal in each of the past three games and seven in his past 11.
Jake Guentzel recorded his 26th career multiple-goal game Friday. Just 128 more of those, and he will tie Lemieux for first place on the franchise’s all-time list.
New Jersey is 12-5 in games decided by three or more goals.
The Devils are 21-0-1 when leading at the second intermission. In part, that’s because the Devils are outscoring their opponents, 58-33, in the third period.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 the X