NEWARK, New Jersey
Danton Heinen, Teddy Blueger and Mike Matheson scored in the Pittsburgh Penguins seventh straight win, beating the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Sunday night.
Tristan Jarry made 17 saves for Pittsburgh, and Dominik Simon, Chad Ruhwedel, Marcus Pettersson and Jason Zucker each had assists as the team improved to 12-2-1 in their last 15 games. . The Penguins have allowed just 10 goals in their last seven games.
“I don’t think it was our best,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I give credit to our players. I think we competed hard. I thought we had found a way to win and I think that’s a sign of a good team.
Forwards Janne Kuokkanen and Nathan Bastian scored for New Jersey, and Jon Gillies blocked 19 shots in his first start for the Devils since being acquired from the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. New Jersey lost its sixth in a row and fell for the 12th time in its last 13 games.
“A few puck games that cost us one more time – made the difference in the game,” said Devils coach Lindy Ruff. “We cleaned a lot. … We need to avoid getting too frustrated.
The Penguins’ penalty kill, who allowed six power play goals, an NHL record, and ranks first in the league for shorthanded efficiency (92.1%), thwarted four of five chances of New Jersey on the power play.
“I think we’re all on the same page,” Blueger said of the shorthanded success. “Our goalkeeper was great, but I think we are all pushing in unison and trying to be aggressive and do good reads on each other. I think it’s a combination of little details and blocking fire and denial of (area) entry and reconciliation. “
Pittsburgh’s first goal came at 9:19 of the first period on a power play when Blueger intercepted a stray pass from Jack Hughes, fought off Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton and beat Gillies between the pads. It was Blueger’s seventh goal of the season and Pittsburgh’s first shorthanded total.
It was also New Jersey’s sixth shorthanded goal, an NHL-high. New Jersey is tied for last in the NHL in power-play efficiency, scoring just 11 of 88 power-play goals this season (12.5%).
“It was a misguided move,” Ruff said of Hughes’ pass, calling it a “high risk pass that ended up turning into an opportunity.”
Heinen bolstered Pittsburgh’s lead to 1:03 into the second when he took a cross feed from Pettersson and unleashed an instant shot past Gillies’ stick. Matheson added confidence with his third of the season at 9:31 of the third that came with forward Sam Laferty throwing Gillies.
“Without (Lafferty) there isn’t a goalie in the league who doesn’t stop that shot from where I was,” said Matheson. “He should score the goal for what he did, not me.”
Jarry is tied for the second most games played (24) among NHL goaltenders this season and earned his 15th victory, which is tied for the third most in the league. He sealed Sunday’s victory with a last-second save on Devils forward Andreas Johnsson, a shot according to Ruff was “almost as good as what you’ll get when you come in on your own.”
Jarry got his first penalty minutes of the season when he got a minor double for Devils defenseman Mason Geertsen in the second period. Jarry now has 16 career penalty minutes.
The Devils were due to host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday in their final game before the annual NHL vacation, but that game has been postponed due to the league’s hiatus on cross-border travel in light of the COVID-19 outbreaks.
THE RETURN OF BRATT
Devils forward Jesper Bratt returned after missing his game against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday due to an illness unrelated to COVID. Bratt, who leads New Jersey with 24 points in 29 games, had a minus-2 rating.
The Devils and Penguins meet again on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
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