Brian Gionta scored two goals for the second time in two games
against Pittsburgh this season, and the New Jersey Devils ran the
Penguins' start-of-season winless streak to a franchise-record
seven games by winning 6-3 Thursday night.
Lemieux, whose ownership group paid out millions to reshape the
Penguins once the NHL labor dispute ended this summer, was critical
afterward of some of his highly paid but underproducing talent. The
Penguins are 0-3-4 after never previously going more than the first
six games of a season without winning.
"It's a long time to not win, especially so early in the
season," said Lemieux, who had a goal and an assist in his third
multipoint game. "It's certainly not the start we wanted,
especially with the personnel we have here."
Lemieux said the Penguins aren't playing together -- an
inexcusable offense to him more than two weeks into the season --
and haven't been into games mentally at the start, causing them to
fall behind early almost every night. The Penguins trailed 2-0 in
the first after goals by Jay Pandolfo and Scott Gomez and have led
in only one game, despite adding players such as Sergei Gonchar,
Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Ziggy Palffy and goalie Jocelyn
"We have a system, but guys aren't playing together and aren't
all on the same page," Lemieux said. "We start playing when we're
down two or three goals and you can't do that. That comes from not
preparing mentally to play the game."
Gomez also assisted on Gionta's goals in a near-replay of the
Devils' 5-1 win over Pittsburgh on opening night Oct. 5, Penguins
rookie Sidney Crosby's long-awaited debut game. Crosby got an
assist that night but went scoreless for the first time in his
short career in the rematch.
"We keep digging ourselves holes and you can't do that,"
Crosby said. "We have to start taking the play to the other
Lemieux scored one of two Pittsburgh goals during a 29-second
span of the second period that briefly tied it at 2, but he drew a
tripping penalty 8 seconds after scoring to set up a 4-on-3
advantage for New Jersey.
Vladimir Malakhov scored his first of the season on a slap shot
from the high slot 23 seconds after Lemieux went to the penalty box
-- the third goal in a minute's time. Gionta scored again on the
power play from along the goal line 7 minutes later to make it 4-2.
"We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized, so it was
huge to take back the momentum," Gionta said.
Gionta and rookie Zach Parise also scored 27 seconds apart early
in the third, Parise's second goal against Pittsburgh and third
overall. Gionta has six goals in 13 career games against the
Penguins, who lost their eighth in a row at home to New Jersey.
"I can't say why it's been that way, they're just going in,"
Gionta said of his success against Pittsburgh. "It helps when you
play with Gomez and Zach, they work hard down low so you get
chances in front of the net."
Thibault was pulled after allowing the sixth goal and has given
up 11 on 66 shots in two starts, both against New Jersey. He had
been out with a knee injury that occurred during a game day skate
The Devils, winning their first in three road games, also got a
goal and an assist from Alexander Mogilny, giving him five points
in two games. He had a goal and two assists in a 4-3 victory over
Florida on Tuesday that followed a 6-1 loss to Carolina on
"The league's changed, and maybe some of the Devils' wins
aren't the way the Devils used to win," Gomez said, referring to
some unusually high scores for a traditionally defense-first team.
"But we'll take it."
The Penguins remain the NHL's only winless team. ... The
Devils have won 14 of 18 from Pittsburgh over the last four
seasons. ... Four of Gionta's five goals are against Pittsburgh.
... Thibault is 3-10-4 against New Jersey. ... Devils goalie Martin
Brodeur, making his seventh consecutive start, made 30 saves. ...
Lemieux also had an assist. ... Pittsburgh has been outshot in all
but one game. The Devils led 36-33 in shots. ... The Penguins are
0-2-1 at home. ... Crosby failed to match Washington rookie
Alexander Ovechkin by scoring in his first seven games. No NHL
rookie had done so since Ottawa's Alexander Daigle in 1993-94. ...
Ten of New Jersey's 22 goals are on the power play.