Sidney Crosby collected his 21st goal of the season, scoring on his rebound eight minutes into the game, making things look status-quo in the paint can.
New Jersey (33-22-8) brought a different blend of youth and speed to shake up the narrative, scoring back-to-back goals, including Taylor Hall (27)—who tied New Jersey’s franchise record with points in 15 straight games—who scored on an angled power play goal that came off a long rebound from a Damon Severson crossbar-ringer with just over four minutes expired in the second period.
“We gave too many chances off the rush,” said Olli Maatta, who blocked two shots and a takeaway in 18:27.
Pittsburgh (36-24-4), who has won 11 of its last 15 games, would knot things up when defenseman Matt Hunwick (4)—off a pass from Jake Guentzel—chipped in a wobbly puck past goalie Keith Kinkaid late in the second period.
Kinkaid, who made his 12th start in 15 games for the Devils, finished with 36 saves, including stopping all 14 shots he faced in the third period.
“They are young and they are fast [and] they can skate,” said Mike Sullivan of the Devils. “It was a fast game out there and I think speed is a competitive advantage. It is hard to play against speed because you’ve got to make decisions quicker, you have to recognize windows of opportunity quicker and you have to execute quicker.”
“That’s the type of game our team is trying to play as well,” continued Sullivan of emulating the speed attack. “When we utilize speed and put pressure on teams, both on the rush and with our puck pursuit game, I think that is when our team is at its best.”
Noesen’s game-winner—a fluky tip in from an angled shot off the stick of Andy Greene, casted a dark cloud on an otherwise bright performance from goalie Casey DeSmith, who was recalled from Wilkes-Barre on Monday after it was announced that Matt Murray (concussion) would be ruled out.
“I didn’t find out until this morning that I was going tonight,” said the rookie, who 35 stops on the night. “It didn’t give me time to dwell on anything and just kind of threw me right in there. I kind of like it that way.”
“I was on the post and [Greene] shot it form the half-wall,” explained DeSmith of the game-winner. “[Noesen] made a good tip, and I think it went off the post, then off of me and in. I guess that’s why teams throw it on net, to get bodies on net and get tips. Unpredictability like that is tough.”
Sullivan backed up his third defensemen pairing of Hunwick and Jamie Oleksiak, who were each on the ice for two goals given up Tuesday night.
“Just because someone’s on the ice for a goal, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s their fault,” coach explained. “There’s six guys on the ice, not five, there’s six guys on the ice.”
Pittsburgh now sits in third place of the Metropolitan, three points behind the leading Washington Capitals.
Brassard’s first game
Third line center Derick Brassard, the 30-year-old, 10-year NHL veteran that was recently-acquired by the Penguins from Ottawa made his debut Tuesday night.
“I had those butterflies in the first. I was nervous, but I also had the excitement of being here, ” said Brassard, who logged 16:58 on 20 shifts with two shots on goal.
Sullivan talked about the feeling out process with Brassard, who has 38 points in 58 games this year.
“There’s obviously going to be a feeling out process, an adjustment process. “We play very differently than the team he’s coming from, so from that standpoint, there’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment process, but I thought for his first game, he played with great energy and he made some good plays. I think he’ll only get better moving forward.”
The third line failed to register a point Tuesday night, putting a combined total of four shots on goal.
“It’s going to take a couple games to get a feel for my line mates and a feel for the way we play,” said Brassard, who was paired with Phil Kessel and Conor Sheary.
“I’m glad the first game is behind me,” Brassard said. “The message is pretty clear, to just have fun out there and not think too much. I was feeling a little bit more comfortable out there, but I have another notch in my game; I have another edge, I’m looking forward to, in the next couple of days, getting back to that high intensity and get a good feel for the game.”
After the moneyline
The Penguins lost for just the second time as -200 or more favorites (Dec. 11- -220 vs. Colorado). This also marks the first game the Pens have lost at home in 11 tries. Had you wagered $100 on the entire 11-game win streak, you would have returned a profit of $691.52.
The total, which was set at 6.5 goals, went over with just five combined, marking just the second under at PPG Paints Arena in the last eight games.
The Penguins will hit the road Thursday night in a date with the Boston Bruins. Puck drops at 7 PM.