NEWARK (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins sent another statement to the rest of the NHL Saturday afternoon.
Matt Cooke scored two goals, Sidney Crosby added three assists and Marc-Andre Fleury made 12 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2.
The win extended the Penguins’ winning streak to 11 games and currently has them just two points behind the New York Rangers in the race for the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference crowns.
The Rangers will host the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night.
As for the Penguins, they got on the board early in the first period.
Chris Kunitz was hauled down on a breakaway just 1:55 into the period, but Martin Brodeur denied his penalty shot attempt with a stick save.
Moments later, Evgeni Malkin won a faceoff straight back to James Neal, who ripped a quick shot by Brodeur to put the Penguins up 1-0.
The Penguins dominated the period, but the Devils were able to even it up before intermission.
Andy Greene joined the rush late and ripped a wrist shot over Fleury’s glove. The play was reviewed, but the goal stood.
Pittsburgh outshot the Devils 14-6 in the period, but would blow the game open in the second period.
Pascal Dupuis scored the first of three goals in a span of 2:32.
After an icing forced the Penguins to take their timeout, Jordan Staal led the rush up ice. After a drop pass, Dupuis hammered a slap shot off the far post and into the net behind Brodeur for a 2-1 lead. The goal was Dupuis’ 20th of the season.
Then, Crosby took a chip pass from Tyler Kennedy at the blue line and moved in on a 2-on-1 with Cooke. Crosby fed a hard backhand pass, which went off of Cooke’s skate and into the net.
The play would be reviewed, but there was no distinct kicking motion and the goal stood.
Just under a minute later, Malkin would record his 40th goal of the season.
With the Penguins on the power play, Crosby went to work along the far boards. He fell to his knees, but protected the puck, got up and fired a quick cross-ice pass for Malkin. A resulting one-timer screamed by Brodeur to put Pittsburgh up 4-1.
After two periods, the Penguins led 26-10 in shots and had all the momentum going their way.
However, the Devils would respond with an early goal in the third.
Patrik Elias’ point-blank shot was stopped by Fleury, but Petr Sykora pounced on the rebound to cut the lead to 4-2 just 2:26 into the period.
About three minutes later, Kennedy drove to the net and lost the puck. However, Cooke found the loose puck and ripped a backhander by Brodeur to cap the scoring in the game.
For the game, the Penguins outshot the Devils 44-14. While a starter has not been named for Sunday’s contest against the Philadelphia Flyers, it would seem likely that Fleury will get the nod in another big game after a relatively small workload today.
Philadelphia lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Bruins on Saturday, meaning the Penguins are now three points ahead of the Flyers entering Sunday’s game.
The Penguins will look to extend the winning streak to 12 games when the puck drops at 12:30 p.m.
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