Devils’ 3-1 Win Sends Pens To 4th Straight Loss
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — The injury situation continues to handicap the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In addition to missing both Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, the team also had to play Saturday night without Jordan Staal.
He suffered an apparent knee injury on Friday against the New York Rangers, and there is still no word on the severity.
The Penguins were without five regulars Saturday and have lost 210 man-games to injury this season.
As Staal deals with his injury now, the Pens goal drought continued against the New Jersey Devils.
Evgeni Malkin staked the Penguins to 1-0 lead in the first period, but once again that quickly evaporated as the Devils scored twice in the second and added another in the third for a 3-1 win, which sent the Pens to their fourth straight loss.
It was Adam Henrique’s short-handed goal in the second period that seemed to turn the momentum in the Devils’ favor. The goal was the Devils’ NHL-high ninth while short-handed.
New Jersey did not allow a goal on either of the Penguins’ power plays to improve the league’s best penalty kill to 91.2 percent this season.
Kovalchuk and Henrique each added an assist, Zach Parise had two assists and Martin Brodeur made 41 saves for the Devils, who beat the Penguins for the second time in eight days and moved past them in the Eastern Conference standings.
One month ago, the Penguins were in first place in the conference and the Devils were 12th. New Jersey has climbed to fifth, and Pittsburgh fell to eighth when the Toronto Maple Leafs beat Detroit on Saturday.
The Penguins also have outshot each of their past four opponents, including a 42-27 edge Saturday.
Pittsburgh has scored a total of five goals in losing its past four — all to Atlantic Division opponents. It’s the Penguins’ longest losing streak in more than two years.
For the third time during their skid, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead during the opening six minutes only to lose it. Pittsburgh was 14-3-3 when scoring first before the losing streak began Dec. 29.
Malkin scored 4:48 into the game on a one-timed slap shot from the point, his first goal since the December NHL player of the month had a hat trick Dec. 17.
But that was the only goal that Brodeur allowed in improving to 44-25-5 against Pittsburgh.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who grew up in Quebec idolizing Brodeur, made 24 saves in a losing effort appearing in his 400th game.
Fleury had a shutout going through 28 minutes, but the Devils had three breakaways on Fleury during a Penguins’ power play midway through the second — the second of which resulting in Henrique’s 12th goal of the season.
Fleury stopped the rookie’s initial shot, but before he could cover the puck, Henrique poked it loose and swatted it into the net. Officials did not award the goal until after a video review.
Less than three minutes later, Kovalchuk scored his 15th on a similar shot from a similar spot on the ice as Malkin.
Zubrus added a power-play tally, his 12th, 1:28 into the third.
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