Devils top sluggish Penguins
Just when it looked like the New Jersey Devils were coming back to the pack in the Eastern Conference after a surprising start, they have surprised everyone again.
This time it was the NHL’s hottest team.
Travis Zajac scored two goals and set up another as the Devils limited Pittsburgh to a season-low 16 shots in posting a 3-1 victory on Saturday night, ending the Penguins’ four-game winning streak.
The win was the Devils third straight after the All-Star break and it came against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, who had only lost twice in 11 games.
“These are big because you want to create as much separation as you can especially as the year goes on,” Zajac said after the Devils leapfrogged the Penguins and moved back into second place in the Metropolitan Division with three games in hand. “It’s nice to get these wins, keep improving and we’re going to have to win a lot more games. As long as we’re prepared and focused, we’ll get there.”
Blake Coleman also scored and Stefan Noesen had two assists for the Devils, who have missed the playoffs the past five seasons.
“You have goals you set out to achieve, every night won’t win, but I think our consistency through 60 minutes has been good,” center Brian Boyle said. “Sometimes you have to simplify and go to basics. We got a great group of character guys in this room.”
Keith Kinkaid made 15 saves and benefited from a goaltender interference call that denied Sidney Crosby a third-period goal.
Evgeni Malkin, the NHL player of the month in January with 12 goals, scored in the third period. He now has eight goals in his last four games, 15 since Jan. 1, and 29 overall. Rookie goaltender Casey DeSmith made 35 saves for the Penguins, who looked sluggish after beating Washington on Friday night.