Kovalchuk lifts Devils to win over Penguins
Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists to snap out of a scoring slump and the New Jersey Devils beat the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins for the fifth straight time, 3-1 on Friday night.
Martin Brodeur made 33 saves for his 37th win of the season and 594th overall.
The Devils, who have outscored Pittsburgh 16-3 during the run, pulled within two points of the Penguins for first place in the Atlantic Division with 17 games to play.
New Jersey also tied Montreal’s NHL record for consecutive seasons with 40 or more victory with 13.
Montreal won 40 or more games in 13 straight seasons from 1971 to 1983 — when regulation ties were not broken in overtime or shootouts.
Kovalchuk, who had only three goals and five assists in 10 games with the Devils since arriving in a trade with Atlanta on Feb. 4, assisted on the Devils’ first two goals, then fired home a wrist shot from the blue line for his 35th goal of the season.
Andy Greene and Patrik Elias also scored goals for New Jersey.
Greene’s goal in the opening minutes of the third period snapped a 1-1 tie.
Sidney Crosby scored the lone goal for the Penguins, who lost for the second straight game after winning five straight.
The Devils opened the scoring 1:43 into the game. Elias alertly collected the carom off Kovalchuk’s shot that bounced off the back boards and poked it past Marc-Andre Fleury.
But the Penguins countered 42 seconds later, when Crosby skated in on a 2-on-1 off a steal and fired a shot that went through Brodeur’s pads.