NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – Sidney Crosby batted his own rebound out of the air and into the net 19 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Devils 4-3 on Thursday night, denying New Jersey a sweep of the four-game season series.
Kris Letang stole Taylor Hall’s pass in the opening seconds in the Pittsburgh zone and sent Crosby on a semi-break the other way. His initial shot hit the goalpost, but then the star center pulled his hands in and swatted the puck out of the air – a fitting move on the opening day of baseball season. Crosby extended his goal-scoring streak to five games, including a similar goal against Montreal last Wednesday in which Crosby juggled the puck once on his stick before smacking it from just below shoulder height.
Conor Sheary, Letang and Patric Hornqvist also scored for the Penguins. Matt Murray made 28 saves.
Kyle Palmieri, Hall and Blake Coleman scored for the Devils, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Keith Kinkaid had 31 saves in losing for only the fourth time in his last 16 decisions (12-3-1).
The game was tied three times, with the Penguins getting a lucky bounce on Hornqvist’s 25th goal that tied it with 8:34 left in regulation. His shot from just inside the blue line went through a maze of players, hit the goalpost and then bounced off Kinkaid’s leg into the net.
Coleman had given the Devils the lead 5:11 into the third period. He stole a puck at the Penguins’ blue line, worked a give-and-go with Travis Zajac and then put the rebound of his own shot past Murray. It was his 12th goal of the season and third against Pittsburgh.
The game was tied 1-all after the first period and 2-all after the second.
Palmieri, who has four goals in his last three games, was sent on a breakaway by Nico Hischier and beat Murray between the pads at 12:19. Sheary tied it 25 seconds later after taking a cross-ice pass by Hornqvist and beating Kinkaid in close.
Letang, who has goals in two straight, put Pittsburgh ahead 6:59 into the second period, beating Kinkaid with a shot from low in the right circle.
Hall tied the game with a power-play goal from the right circle after rookie defenseman Will Butcher blocked a clearing pass at the point. It was his 34th goal.
NOTES: Hischier is the first Devils’ rookie to have 50 points in a season since Adam Henrique in 2011-12. … The Penguins now have four 25-goal scorers with Hornqvist joining Evgeni Malkin (42), Phil Kessel (30) and Crosby (28). It’s the first time since 2011-12. … RW Patrick Maroon returned to the Devils’ lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury. … Rookie RW Jesper Bratt was a healthy scratch.
Penguins: Host Montreal on Saturday.
Devils: Finish four-game home stand on Saturday against Islanders.
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