The win pushed the Penguins' home winning streak to a season-high
seven games despite being mostly outplayed for the game's final 40
minutes. "I think we're a pretty good team, we've just got to get
our minds into it from the start of the game and start skating right
off the hop and when we do that, when we play 60 minutes, we can
play against anybody," said New Jersey center Dainius Zubrus.
The game also marked the possible final visit to Pittsburgh for
future Hall of Famer and current New Jersey Devils right winger
Jaromir Jagr, who spent the first 11 seasons of his career as a
Penguin and ranks second only to Mario Lemieux on the team's
all-time points list. Jagr finished the night with one assist.
Just 41 seconds into the game, the Penguins pounced on a rebound and
stuffed it past Devils goaltender Cory Schneider. Left winger Chris
Kunitz dumped the puck in on net from the neutral zone, but the
fluttering puck handcuffed Schneider. It appeared to the 18,582 in
attendance that Schneider had frozen the puck, but forward Pascal
Dupuis and the officials saw that the puck was still loose. Dupuis
rushed in to stuff the puck over the goal line. "Obviously, just an
inexcusable goal; that can't happen at this level," said Schneider.
"It's not fair to my teammates to put them down 40 seconds into the
Pittsburgh went ahead by a pair at the 7:55 mark of the first when
center Brandon Sutter took a hit along the right-wing boards to make
a pass to streaking right winger Chris Conner, who was skating
unobstructed toward the net. Conner glided into the slot and then
beat Schneider with a hard wrist shot.
The Penguins made it 3-0 when center Jayson Megna, positioned near
the bottom of the right wing faceoff circle, took the rebound of a
shot from defenseman Simon Despres and wristed it off the right post
and in for his fourth of the season at 14:40.
"It kicked right back out to me and I just saw a little bit of an
opening, said Megna. "I think I made it way too close than it had to
be off the post."
New Jersey came out a different team in the second period and began
to cut into the Pittsburgh lead. At 3:24, defenseman Anton
Volchenkov threw a shot toward the net from the left wing boards
that was easily tipped and re-directed past Pittsburgh netminder
Marc-Andre Fleury from in tight by left winger Patrik Elias.
[to top of second column]
Less than a minute later, the Devils pulled to within one
when Jagr fired a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot that hit
Fleury and slowly trickled toward the goal line. Seeing the puck
lying near the goal line, Zubrus rushed in and pushed the puck
over the line with one hand on his stick.
For how dominant the Penguins were in the first, the Devils
unquestionably carried the play in the second, out-shooting
"You look up and you are staring at just a one-goal lead pretty
quickly," said Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. "We took our foot
off the pedal in terms of how we played and how we executed with
Near the 12-minute mark of the third, Fleury made his best save
of the contest, sprawling to stop a shot with the cuff of his
glove off the stick of center Damien Brunner who was in alone on
a breakaway. This save accounted for just one of 37 New Jersey
shots that Fleury turned away to earn his 18th win of the
season. Schneider made 20 saves in defeat.
"Even though they scored two goals, I think we did not panic and
still were focused on the game," said Fleury.
NOTES: The Penguins have lost 153 man-games to injury, the
Devils have lost 121. ... Devils RW Jaromir Jagr and LW Patrik
Elias are the NHL's 1st and 8th active leading scorers,
respectively. ... Heading into Friday's action, the Penguins'
healthy defensemen had a combined total of 1,189 career games
played, while their injured defensemen Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin
and Rob Scuderi have a combined total of 1,865 career games
played. ... Scratches for the Penguins were LW James Neal
(suspension), and D Brian Dumoulin. Scratches for the Devils
were LW Mattias Tedenby and C Andrei Loktionov. ... Both teams
will be in action again Saturday. The Penguins will travel to
Detroit and the Devils will host Tampa Bay.
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