The Pittsburgh Penguins have scored at least four goals in their last four games. The supposed injury-ravaged lineup hung six on the New Jersey Devils. Sidney Crosby had three points, including one goal, and backup goalie Casey DeSmith made a few sparkling saves for the 6-4 Penguins win over the New Jersey Devils Friday at the Prudential Center.
The Penguins power play converted a pair of iffy penalties into goals, including Bryan Rust’s third period marker, which gave the Penguins the necessary breather. The Penguins’ power play rose to 14th in the NHL before the game, and two goals in four chances will boost them further.
“It’s probably not our best game, but we did some good things when we needed to,” Crosby said.
New Jersey was hot in the first five minutes. They outshot the Penguins 5-1 and scored the first goal of the game. Miles Wood charged the crease from an offensive zone faceoff win, and Jesper Bratt zipped the puck to the net. Wood (12) cleaned up the garbage with a net-front power move.
The Penguins got the next two goals, including Jared McCann’s fifth power-play goal since being elevated to the Penguins’ top unit on March 25.
The Pittsburgh Penguins maintained zone pressure for nearly 90 seconds. New Jersey goalie MacKenzie Blackwood stopped Crosby, but McCann (11) showed some silky mitts to roof the rebound shot.
McCann had two points (1g, 1a) on Friday. He also has six goals in his last eight games.
Late in the first period, New Jersey gifted Brian Dumoulin a flukey goal. From the point, Dumoulin (2) simply wristed the puck towards the net, but New Jersey forward Janne Kuokkanen deflected it past Blackwood.
Dumoulin has two goals in three games.
The teams traded goals in the second period, though the goalies took turns imitating Hall of Fame goalies; DeSmith did his best Dominik Hasek impersonation while Blackwood took the more traditional Patrick Roy. And both were brilliant.
Penguins winger Sam Lafferty pushed hard for his first goal of the season. He had a first-period breakaway and a couple of good looks and followed his own rebound within feet of the net, but it was a Black(wood)-out.
New Jersey tied the game early in the second period. Despite the otherwise brilliant play, DeSmith served a juicy rebound, and 2019 first-overall pick Jack Hughes buried the extra chance.
Then Lafferty had a few chances until Colton Sceviour scored the third fourth-line goal in two games. Sceviour (3) swatted a fluttering puck out of midair past Blackwood.
Four minutes into the third period, Rust (15) pointed his stick to the roof and powered a slap shot through Jake Guentzel’s screen and past Blackwood. It was the Penguins’ second power-play goal.
Midway through the final period, Rust checked New Jersey defenseman P.K. Subban off the puck. Guentzel set up Sidney Crosby in the slot. Crosby (16) quickly ended any doubt about the outcome. Or so it seemed.
Adam Boqvist, whom DeSmith robbed with a diving stop with his blocker in the second period, got a make-good goal. A couple of minutes after Crosby scored, Boqvist’s centering pass bounced off Kris Letang’s skates. It was an own-goal, but Boqvist got credit in a fit of poetic justice.
In the final 90 seconds, New Jersey scored again. Miles Wood popped DeSmith in the mask, but no penalty was called. A moment later, Wood banked a shot off DeSmith from behind the goal line. 5-4, and things were tense.
However, Rust (16) scored the empty netter.
DeSmith stopped 25 of 29.
Blackwood didn’t have good stats, either, but he was very good. Blackwood stopped 21 of 26.