PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — The Penguins returned to the friendly confines of CONSOL Energy Center Sunday looking to get back on track following a blowout loss in Ottawa Saturday.
It was Sidney Crosby who gave the Penguins some breathing room with a goal early in the third period. From there, Crosby and the Pens went on to beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2.
It was Crosby’s first goal at home since scoring twice in his season debut against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21. He also scored in Saturday’s road loss to the Senators.
Chris Kunitz, Jordan Staal, Pascal Dupuis and Evgeni Malkin scored the other goals for the Penguins.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves in the win. It was his NHL-leading 41st victory to move within one win of tying Tom Barrasso’s franchise mark of 226.
Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Devils, and Martin Brodeur made 23 saves in the loss.
The Penguins took the lead just 64 seconds in thanks to some sloppy stickhandling by Brodeur. He gathered the puck behind the net and was attempting a pass when Malkin swooped in and stole the puck then whipped a pass to Kunitz, who then fired it into a wide-open net.
But the Pens quickly repaid the gift, with Crosby turning it over deep in his own end and Fleury badly out of position. Parise jumped on the mistake to knot things at 1.
It remained tied until late in the period when Staal used his reach to collect a pass from Matt Cooke and sneak a wrist shot by Brodeur to make it 2-1.
Dupuis pushed it to 3-1 in the second after he pounced on a rebound, extending his points streak to a career-best 10 games, the longest active streak in the league.
The Devils pulled to 3-2 on Kovalchuk’s team-leading 32nd goal of the season 2:55 into the third period and were forcing the play when Crosby intercepted a pass at New Jersey’s blue line, pirouetted around a defenseman then raced in all alone and beat Brodeur with a wrist shot to restore Pittsburgh’s two-goal advantage.
Malkin added an empty-netter late to give him 46 on the season, one off his career-high.
The Penguins scratched forward Steve Sullivan, who left the Ottawa game with an injury coach Dan Bylsma called “short-term.”
As for the Penguins and Devils, the teams split their six games against each other this season, finishing with a 3-3 record.
Up next, the Penguins have a home-and-home series against the New York Islanders starting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the CONSOL Energy Center.
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