Devils 2 – Penguins 0
Prudential Center, Newark
Two first-period goals and Martin Brodeur’s 114th career shutout led the New Jersey Devils past a short-handed Pittsburgh Penguins team Thursday night in Newark. The Pens, who allowed Brian Rolston’s game-winning goal 1:22 into the first period, played without Evgeni Malkin (undisclosed) and Sidney Crosby (concussion) in the 2-0 loss. The team has played only twice this year – on January 1 against Washington and January 5 against Tampa Bay – with Crosby, Malkin and Jordan Staal in the lineup. Thirty-eight-year-old netminder Martin Brodeur, whose puck-playing skills deterred the Pens’ forecheck and sparked the rush on Rolston’s goal, made 23 saves to post his fourth shutout of the season, and eighth all-time against the Penguins.
Absent all-stars did not tell the entire story of the Pittsburgh loss, however. The Devils, suffering through their worst season in decades, have turned a corner under re-hired head coach Jacques Lemaire, going on a 4-0-1 streak in their past five games. The league’s last-place team showed glimpses of the defensively stout, trap-happy, three-time Stanley Cup Champions that the Penguins – and every other team in the league – are accustomed to seeing, as New Jersey made a slim, first-period lead last until the final buzzer. The Penguins, who didn’t get a power play opportunity until 5:27 into the third period, didn’t test the Devils too much either, though. Playing without Crosby and Malkin made it crucial for the Pens to seize a lead, and their failure to do that practically guaranteed a loss.
Rolston’s goal off of the rush opened the scoring when his shot from above the left circle beat Brent Johnson short-side. Rolston’s goal would seal the win for the Devils, but at 9:51 of the first period Nick Palmieri added an insurance marker after Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek failed to connect on a pass behind their own net. Palmieri intercepted the reverse-pass attempt, rounded the net and shoveled a backhand shot past Johnson.
Max Talbot, who won 13 of 16 faceoffs in the game, made a failed attempt to energize his team when he dropped the gloves with Tim Sestito in the third period. The Pens’ three-game winning streak ended with the loss.
1. Martin Brodeur (NJ), 2. Brian Rolston (NJ), 3. Nick Palmieri (NJ)
Brian Rolston (4) – Assists: Patrick Elias (23), Andy Greene (14)
Nick Palmieri (3) – Unassisted
IN THE NET
PIT: Brent Johnson – 2/20; DET: Martin Brodeur – 0/23
Pittsburgh 0-1; New Jersey 0-4
The Penguins face Jordan’s big brother and the Carolina Hurricanes (23-18-6) at the Consol Energy Center Saturday at 7 p.m.