NHL: DEVILS 4, PENGUINS 1 -- Sputtering Penguins lose for fourth time in six games
NEWARK, N.J. — Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur still know how to make the key plays that lead to wins.
And the New Jersey Devils are thankful for that.
“Our older guys were great,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said after Jagr scored two goals and Brodeur made 27 saves to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
“I don’t know what kind of statement we can really make,” Brodeur said of he and Jagr contributing to the Devils. “It’s kind of nice. I think it goes a long way when you enjoy the game of hockey. At our age, if we didn’t do that, it would be really, really hard to play this game.
“And me and (Jagr), everyone can tell you we love being around here.”
Andy Greene and Adam Larsson also scored for New Jersey, which has won three of its past five.
“It’s big for us,” Brodeur said. “We’re looking to get back to .500 and from there, let’s go forward. We’re not there yet.”
Chris Kunitz scored for Pittsburgh. The Penguins have lost four of six. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 18 of 21 shots.
“We’ve been in tight games, one-goal games,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “We haven’t been able to win them. That’s a common theme.”
Jagr’s first goal of the third period put the Devils up 3-1 at 14:06. Dainius Zubrus forced and recovered Kris Letang’s offensive zone turnover before setting up Jagr for his sixth of the season. Jagr added an empty netter at 18:43.
“He wasn’t the weakest link on our line,” Jagr joked when asked about Zubrus. “He was good.”
Despite being outshot 10-3 in the first period, it was the Devils who went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead. Greene’s second of the season opened the scoring with 18.4 seconds left in the period.
Zubrus’ hit on Letang forced a turnover that Greene recovered at the half wall. The New Jersey defenseman fired a shot that appeared to ricochet off Fleury’s pads and rolled into the net.
“They get three shots in the first period and the puck gets deflected, bounces, and Marc-Andre Fleury never sees the puck until it hits him in the chest,” Bylsma said.
Kunitz tied the game 4:18 into the second with his ninth goal of the season. Adam Henrique’s pass from behind the Penguins net eluded Marek Zidlicky, and Kunitz outraced the New Jersey defenseman to the loose puck before flipping the puck past Brodeur.
Larsson gave the Devils a 2-1 lead with 1:38 left in the second. Zubrus weaved his way through the neutral zone before finding Travis Zajac on the right wing. Zajac fired a cross-ice pass to a cutting Larsson, who roofed a shot over Fleury for his first goal of the season. The goal was Larsson’s first since Nov. 26, 2011, and only the third of his career.
“It was pretty important for us,” Larsson said of his goal. “Got a nice pass from (Zajac) and tried to get it to the net, and was lucky it went in.”
Brodeur and New Jersey’s penalty killers made the lead hold up. Brodeur made 12 saves in the third, and the Devils killed both of Pittsburgh’s power plays in the period. Pittsburgh did not score on any of its four power plays.
“We had our chances to score,” Penguins star Sidney Crosby said. “I think (taking away the middle of the ice) is pretty typical of their team. That’s something we expected and we were willing to fight through that. We didn’t turn the puck over that much. We got it deep and tried to generate things from there, but that’s kind of the way they play. We understand that and we tried to get through it.”
New Jersey went 0-for-3 on the power play.
Pittsburgh called up center Zach Sill from its AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before the game. Sill skated on the fourth line with Craig Adams and Tanner Glass.