Rapid Reaction: Penguins 5, Devils 2
March, 17, 2012
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
WHAT IT MEANS: The streak continues. Sidney Crosby recorded a season-high tying three assists and the Penguins won their 11th straight game in a row, routing the Devils, 5-2, on Saturday afternoon at the Prudential Center. Pittsburgh (44-21-5), which moved to within two points of the Rangers (44-19-7) in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, had lost its last three straight games to New Jersey (41-26-5). In two games since missing the previous 40 due to concussion-like symptoms, the 24-year-old Crosby has five assists and has a plus-five rating. The Penguins have outscored their opposition 43-17 in regulation during the streak. The Devils, who were outshot 44-14, finished 3-2 overall against the Penguins this season.
SID THE KID: The superstar center took 17 shifts and logged 15:19 of ice-time. He slid a cross-crease pass which deflected off linemate Matt Cooke's skate and in to put the Penguins ahead to 3-1 at 11:44 of the second period, and later slid a pass from the left-wing boards to Evgeni Malkin, who one-timed it in from the right circle for his 40th goal of the season. Malkin’s power play goal at 12:42 of the middle frame gave Pittsburgh a three-goal cushion. It is the second 40-goal campaign of the NHL’s leading scorer’s career. Crosby added a secondary assist on Cooke’s second of the game in the third that made it 5-2. Crosby was also flanked on his line by Tyler Kennedy. The trio combined for seven points (two goals, five assists).
NO GOALS, THOUGH: Crosby, who despite taking six shots on Saturday afternoon has now gone nine straight games without a goal, was robbed by Martin Brodeur's glove in the second period, and missed a rebound near the left post in the first. Crosby also had a backhand chance and a breakaway in the third that were denied by the future Hall of Fame goaltender. He hasn’t tallied since he did so twice on Nov. 21 against the Islanders, but the Penguins are 7-2-1 in 2011-12 with him in the lineup and he’s recorded 14 assists and 16 points overall.
SHARING THE WEALTH: Pittsburgh offensive depth was on full display -- as were several defensive-zone coverage breakdowns by the Devils. James Neal scored his 32nd goal of the season, while Pascal Dupuis added his 20th. Cooke, who potted Nos. 15 and 16, now has four goals in his last two games. Neal scored on the ensuing draw after Brodeur stopped a Chris Kunitz penalty shot.
ALMOST 40: Marc-Andre Fleury made 12 saves to recorded his 39th victory of the season, and has now won his last 10 decisions.
DROUGHT OVER: After being shutout in their last two games, the Devils snapped a 147-minute, 38-second drought without a goal when Andy Greene scored his first of the season from the left circle at 16:57 of the opening period, tying the game at 1.
SYKIE: Petr Sykora scored his 16th goal of the season -- and first in 11 games -- in the third period to bring the Devils within two.
GOING RETRO: The Devils wore their original red and green jerseys as part of throwback day. Former PA announcer Bob Arensa worked the game, and they played the team’s old “Yanni” intro.
UP NEXT: The Devils will head across the river to take on the Rangers at the Garden on Monday night, while the Penguins will face the Flyers on Sunday afternoon at Wachovia Center.