Devils’ power-play goals hurt Penguins
The way the Pittsburgh Penguins were taking penalties, it was only a matter of time before New Jersey took advantage.
Adam Henrique and Bobby Butler scored third-period power-play goals during a 2:12 span, and the Devils extended their winning streak to four games with a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday that snapped the Penguins’ five-game winning streak.
Ilya Kovalchuk assisted on the late goals, which came on the seventh and eighth of New Jersey’s 10 power plays. Defenseman Andy Greene also had two assists, including the primary one on rookie Stefan Matteau’s first NHL goal, as the Devils avenged a 5-1 loss to the Penguins last week.
“We kept our composure,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said of his team not getting frustrated after failing to cash in on its first six power plays.
Henrique’s game-winner with 9:04 to play came after Butler’s shot clanged off the post and rebounded right to him in the left circle. Henrique had an open net in scoring for the third straight game.
“This win was huge for us,” Henrique said. “We didn’t play our game against them last week. We did things to adjust. Our special teams have been really big lately. Our power play got the big plays down the stretch and when you get two, it always pays off.”
Butler, signed by the Devils in the offseason after falling out of favor in Ottawa, scored his first goal for New Jersey a little more than 2 minutes later with Evgeni Malkin off for tripping. Butler ripped a shot from the right circle again that Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t have a chance to stop.
“That one I knew I had,” Butler said. “It was a great opportunity for me and I was fortunate to capitalize on that chance.”
Martin Brodeur made 24 saves and provided a little humor by chasing his stick late in the second period of his 1,200th career game. He became the first NHL goalie to play that many.
Brandon Sutter scored early for the Penguins. The teams will play again Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said all the penalty kills never allowed his team to get into a flow at even strength.
“Whenever you give a team repeated power plays, it gets harder as you go along, and when you get to the seven, eight, nine and 10 area, or three or four in a period, it gets harder to kill those,” Bylsma said.
Matteau tied the game 1-all late in the second period with his first career goal. It was easy, thanks in large part to Greene. He faked a shot from the left point and slid a pass to the 18-year-old in the left circle, catching Fleury out of position. Once Matteau controlled the puck, he had an open net for his first NHL point.
Pittsburgh took an early lead on a power-play goal by Sutter, the son of former Devils coach Brent Sutter. Defenseman Simon Despres took a shot from the left point and Sutter deflected it past Brodeur.
The Penguins had some great chances on a power play late in the second when Brodeur lost his stick for at least 30 seconds. The 40-year-old goalie had to make stops on shots by Sidney Crosby and James Neal, and also had a humorous moment after the Devils cleared the puck from the zone.
As Brodeur skated to the corner to get his stick, Fleury sent a pass off the sideboards to Malkin at the blue line. The Penguins sniper quickly turned and fired it at the net as Brodeur scrambled to get back in the crease. The puck hit off the post and then Brodeur’s skate, sliding across the goal line while drawing gasps from the sellout crowd.
There was no need for concern. A Penguins player had not cleared the zone after the clearing pass, so Malkin was offside, meaning the goal would not have counted.
“I had no idea it was offside,” Brodeur said. “I guess all the work I put in the offseason paid off. I have quick feet and I’m a good dancer.”