Pens-Devils In-Game Blog
Sunday, 03.25.2012 / 5:30 PM ET / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
PENGUINS 5, DEVILS 2
0:00: That'll do it. Pens come away with a 5-2 win over New Jersey.
0:39: Sykora catches Michalek under the visor with a high stick behind the Pens net. Sykora will go to the box. Pens to the PP.
1:32: Devils pull Brodeur for the extra attacker, which proves to be a mistake as Malkin gets a takeaway in the neutral zone and fires the puck down the ice for the goal! PENS 5, DEVILS 2
5:54: Yikes. Kovalchuk just missed a wide-open net on the backdoor.
6:33: Pens kill off the interference penalty to Cooke and go back to full strength.
8:40: Cooke to the box. Pens to the PK.
10:20: A perfect pass allows Malkin to get a step on the Devils defenders, but he isn't quite off to the races. So Geno spins and passes to Neal, who gives it right back. A few too many passes mean the Pens don't get a shot on the play.
14:30: Letang and Ryan Carter race for a puck behind the Pens net. The Devils forward takes out Letang's feet from under him, causing him to crash into the boards legs first. Letang just can't seem to catch a break this game. Luckily Tanger stays on the bench after the play.
|"that was so so so sick #thekid #pens"
15:03: Crosby passes the puck to himself around D-man Marek Zidlicky. That nifty play allows him to bear down alone on Brodeur. He snaps one five-hole for the goal!!! Crosby actually pulled off the same exact play on that same exact player earlier in the game. Success the second time. PENS 4, DEVILS 2
16:23: Kovalchuk meanders over to the left circle and nearly gets a point-blank shot opportunity, but the pass hops over his stick. He wanders to the side of the cage after the play moves, and this time the pass doesn't miss his blade. Kovalchuk dunks it home for the goal. PENS 3, DEVILS 2
17:18: Greene's shot from the point goes through traffic and nearly bounces past Fleury, who doesn't know where it is! But the hockey gods are smiling on the Pens during that play, as the puck skitters into the corner.
20:00: Puck drops to start the third. Game on!
Evgeni Malkin gave everyone a scare in the first period when he missed a shift after blocking a shot. But to everybody's relief, he shook it off and returned after a short while. This period, it was Kris Letang who gave everyone a scare when he went to the locker room after a head-to-head collision with Dainius Zubrus. But luckily, Letang also returned to play after a brief absence. However, the Pens are still missing D-man Ben Lovejoy, who was not on the bench during that period.
- Dupuis' goal extends his career-high point streak to 10 games, the longest active point streak in the NHL.
- The goal was Dupuis' 49th point of the season, establishing a new personal best for the veteran winger (breaking his old one, set 9 years ago with Minnesota in 2002-03).
And as @Venny7272 pointed out on Twitter...
|"Kunitz, Staal, and Dupuis all score their 23rd goal of the season respectively. #pens 3 #devils 1"
0:00: First 40 minutes are in the books. Pens have a 3-1 lead and the Devils have a slight edge in shots (24-23).
1:57: Devils win an offensive zone faceoff back to Greene, who blows a tire at the blue line and nearly allows Dupuis to embark on a breakaway! But Greene uses his body to keep that from happening and gets a stoppage in play.
|"#Pens Pascal Dupuis was robbed by #Devils Martin Brodeur earlier in the game, but he makes it count this time. Pens are in domination mode."
|"Super DUPER having a career year #pens #1stplacebound"
4:26: Textbook play by the Pens just now. Engelland tries to give a pass to a breaking Crosby, but it goes just out of his reach to Dupuis. Dupuis quickly taps it right to the speeding Crosby, who goes down 2-on-1 with Adams. Crosby whacks the rebound of Adams' shot to a crashing Dupuis, who slams it home! PENS 3, DEVILS 1
5:54: Staal gets two for tripping and Devils D-man Andy Greene gets a pair for slashing. The penalties cancel each other out. We'll stay 5-on-5 once Zajac is out of the box.
|"Dear hockey gods, thank you for helping tanger! #pens"
6:09: Cue another huge sigh of relief: Kris Letang has returned to the bench.
7:47: Zajac slashes Asham's stick out of his hands as the Pens forward drives to the net and he gets called for it. Pens to the PP! With Letang in the dressing room, Martin is playing the point.
9:39: Letang collided with Dainius Zubrus, stayed on the bench for a short while after then left for the locker room. Pens are currently down to four defensemen.
10:36: Dupuis is uncovered at the backdoor and gets a pass. He tries to push one through Brodeur and after he gets the shot off, Bernier hits him with a hard check. Dupuis looks a little shaken up but stays on the bench.
11:24: Lovejoy hasn't been on the bench this period. He left briefly in the first, but returned. We'll let you know if we hear anything.
13:40: Coach Bylsma uses his timeout when his team ices the puck after that long Devils shift in Pittsburgh's D zone.
13:55: The Devils just strung together a fantastic shift. They had extended offensive zone time and made Fleury work by getting shots and rebound opportunities.
16:54: Michalek lost his stick in the corner and wasn't able to get to his man in time. Elias got a couple cracks from just outside the blue paint, but Fleury made the saves.
20:00: Puck drops to start the second. Game on!
A goal at the very beginning of the period and one at the very end gives Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission. Chris Kunitz scored just 1:04 into the frame on a pass from Evgeni Malkin to give the Pens an early 1-0 lead. The Devils countered a few minutes later when Zach Parise capitalized on a misplayed puck in the Pens zone, but Jordan Staal regained the lead for Pittsburgh with just 55.3 seconds left to play in the period.
- That's Staal's first goal since March 7. But with that being said, Staal has 22 points in 21 games since returning from injury Feb. 11.
- Cooke assisted on Staal's goal, meaning he now has at least one point in 6 of his last 7 games for a total of 10 points (7G-3A).
- Crosby is 7-1 in the faceoff dot. 88 percent. Wow.
0:00: That'll do it for the first. Pens have a 2-1 lead with goals from Kunitz and Staal. Zach Parise has New Jersey's lone tally. Shots are 14-11 in favor of Pittsburgh.
|"WHAT A BEAUTY. Been waiting for a goal from Jordan Staal for a while. #GoldenAngel"
|"Mr. Determination (Staalsy) brings the score to 2-1 before the period ends! Let's go #Pens!"
0:55: Absolutely gorgeous goal by Staal. He powers his way into the slot, looks like he's going to go for a toe drag around the defender but instead opts to shoot at the last possible second and tricks Brodeur, who was cheating over to cover Adams at the backdoor! That goal came seconds after Cooke nearly got his 20th of the season. PENS 2, DEVILS 1
|"The fact that @malkin71_ got his own rebound was simply incredible. #Pens"
3:20: Unreal effort by Malkin just now. He came with speed through the neutral zone and goes in on Brodeur, who sprawls out to make a diving pokecheck. But the play didn't end there, as Malkin battled through a sea of white jerseys to regain the puck and whip another shot to the goal that went just wide!
5:39: Pens are trying to do a little too much with the puck. They're being too unselfish and passing it around too much. I'd like to see them get more shots to the net.
8:14: Pens kill off the penalty to Neal and go back to full strength.
|"FLEURY SAYS BOOM!! NOT IN MY HOUSE! #Pens #LetsGoPens #FlowerPower"
8:52: An open Parise gets the puck on the backdoor, but Fleury slides over in time to rob him of a goal!
10:24: Devils will get the evening's first power play as Neal goes off for tripping.
11:06: Cue the huge sighs of relief. Malkin looks like he was able to shake off that shot pretty well as he is back on the ice. Good sign.
12:06: As he was battling in front of the Devils net, Malkin took a slapshot in the hand. He remains on the bench but missed his last shift. Crosby went out in his stead between Kunitz and Neal.
14:50: Another misplayed puck behind a net leads to a goal. Fleury pushes it around to Crosby, whose pass is intercepted by Parise. The Devils captain floats it into the open net before Fleury can get back in. PENS 1, DEVILS 1
|"Game is at a feverish pace tonight, we need this win #Pens"
16:51: Pens' top line is feeling it tonight. They just had another shift where they created havoc and got pucks to the net. Brodeur's already faced six shots through the first three minutes.
|"Great play by Malkin. Kuuuunitz with the Goal #Pens"
18:56: Brodeur makes a rare misstep as he goes to play to a puck behind his net (he's the best puck-handling goalie in the league). Malkin strips him of the puck and gives it to a wide-open Chris Kunitz, who slams it into the empty net for the score! PENS 1, DEVILS 0
19:18: Kovalchuk loses an edge as he heads into the corner of the Pens zone. He falls hard into the boards and looks like he's hurting a bit as he gets up, but stays on the bench.
20:00: It's a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Puck drops to start the first. Game on!
|"Ok boys! Tonight is critical! We gotta beat the #devils and it better be in regulation! Go #pens!!"
The Pens have shaken up their line combinations with Sullivan out. Jeffrey is in; Tangradi is scratched (along with Niskanen, Vitale and Johnson).
Fleury in goal. Brodeur in net for New Jersey.
Tonight marks the sixth and final meeting between these division rivals. The Devils currently have a decent hold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference, but are struggling to produce offense (click here for the full scouting report on New Jersey).
They hope that the return of center Travis Zajac to the lineup will provide a much-needed boost. Zajac spoke to the media this morning about his long and arduous road to recovery from Achilles heel surgery that's only allowed him to play 8 games this season. Press play below to hear what he had to say.
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…
On the lineup:
Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net. Steve Sullivan, lower-body, will not be playing tonight. He’s day-to-day, not unlike the last time he left during a game. Expecting him to be short term at this time. Matt Niskanen and Joe Vitale practiced this morning. They’re day-to-day. Both of them are doing pretty well. Hopefully, sometime this week (they’ll play). The rest of the lineup will be game-time (decision).
On Crosby absorbing contact well:
He hasn’t played a lot of hockey. He was out with a concussion, played more games and was out again for an extended period of time. People wanted to know how he’d deal with the ramped up games as playoffs come, this time of year with the intensity of the games. I think there are certain things you see when Sidney is playing good hockey. That’s going into the corner, taking the hit and protecting the puck, playing down low, going to the net. The play he made to Malkin for the power-play goal in New Jersey, there was contact along the boards, fighting the play off and making the pass. That’s what you see when Sidney Crosby is playing in traffic and with the puck, absorbing that type of physicality, being there, going in and initiating. Also using it to protect the puck. That’s what he does well as a player. That’s what I meant about him absorbing contact and handling it well, doing the things in the traffic areas that have been a part of how he plays the game so well.
On Cooke having confidence as a goal scorer:
He picked up a lot of confidence when he started playing with Crosby. The goal he scores in New Jersey going to the net, it’s off his skate and in. Last night was a similar goal. He’s going to the net hard and it ends up right on his tape. He re-directs it and I think Matt has always been a smart player, goes to the tough areas, driving the net. When you’re playing with Sidney Crosby and it ends up on your tape, he’s been in those good areas to score goals. As a result he’s scored some goals. Right now he’s feeling the benefits of going to those areas, playing good, smart hockey, going to the front of the net and the puck ending up on his tape, and he ends up on the scoresheet as a result. He seems to be scoring in bunches. He’s consistently always gone to those areas to score. To be a net-front presence on the power play, he’s getting some good opportunities to score and the pucks going in for him.
Good evening everyone! It's a rare Sunday night game for the Pens, who will be hosting the Devils here at CONSOL Energy Center in less than two hours. It's the sixth and final meeting of the season between the Atlantic Division rivals.
The Pens enter tonight's contest riding a season-high nine-game winning streak dating back to a 2-0 win over the New York Rangers on Feb. 21. A win tonight would establish only the third home winning streak of 10 or more games in franchise history, and would mark the team's first 10-game home winning streak since 1993.
The team cancelled their morning skate as they played last night in Ottawa, but head coach Dan Bylsma did address the media before the game. He said that forward Steve Sullivan is out for tonight's game with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. Defenseman Matt Niskanen and forward Joe Vitale are also out, but Bylsma said that they could return this week. Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal.
New Jersey did have a morning skate this a.m., and Steve Mears was here to get the news coming out of the Devils locker room – most notably that top-line center Travis Zajac will make his return tonight. To hear from Zajac and get the rest of the day's happenings, press the play button below.