PITTSBURGH (AP) – Jared McCann and John Marino scored 25 seconds apart in the third period to boost the Pittsburgh Penguins past the New Jersey Devils 4-1 on Friday night.
Jake Guentzel picked up his team-leading 11th goal for Pittsburgh and Dominik Kahun added his sixth of the season as the Penguins snapped a four-game winless streak at home against New Jersey.
Tristan Jarry trimmed his goals-against average to 1.81 by stopping 36 shots, weathering an early second-period surge from the Devils then coasting after Guentzel’s pretty backhand goal just past the midway point gave the Penguins the momentum they would need.
Taylor Hall scored his third of the season for the Devils. Mackenzie Blackwood made 30 saves before being pulled in favor of Louis Domingue early in the third period after giving up goals on back to back shots by McCann and Marino.
If the Penguins were drained following consecutive overtime losses to the streaking New York Islanders, it didn’t show. Pittsburgh carried play early and Kahun gave the Penguins the lead 7:51 into the first when linemate Dominik Simon created a turnover along the boards in the New Jersey zone and slipped the puck to Kahun. Kahun worked his way past Devils defenseman Mirco Mueller and flipped the puck past Blackwood’s stick to put Pittsburgh in front.
Hall evened it 31 seconds into the second with a power-play goal, the third Pittsburgh surrendered in two games following a franchise record-tying stretch in which the Penguins went 10 games without giving up a goal while a man down. New Jersey kept pressing, ripping off 12 shots at Jarry in the opening eight minutes of the second. Jarry, however, stood his ground and the offense responded behind a top line that has kept right on humming even with captain Sidney Crosby out following surgery to repair a sports hernia.
Guentzel took a lead pass from Evgeni Malkin – centering the top line in Crosby’s absence – and broke in alone on Blackwood. He dumped the puck into the open net following a nifty deke from his forehand to his backhand to put Pittsburgh back in front.
The Penguins have been only so-so finishing off opponents this season, coming in 6-2-1 when leading after two periods, including a late collapse against the Islanders on Tuesday that ended with New York extending its point streak to 15 games. There would be no letdown this time against a New Jersey attack that’s struggling to score goals.
Pittsburgh’s Alex Galchenyuk forced a turnover on the forecheck early in the third and the puck came to McCann in the slot. McCann beat Blackwood high to make it 3-1. The buzz in the arena hadn’t died down when Marino pushed the lead to three goals on a slapshot from above the right circle that made its way through a sea of bodies and into the net to chase Blackwood.
NOTES: The Devils, ranked 29th in the league in scoring, have scored two or fewer goals in 12 of 21 games. … New Jersey scratched D Matt Tennyson and C John Hayden. … The Penguins D Juuso Riikola and C Joseph Blandisi in addition to Schultz. … Pittsburgh improved to 3-2 on the second night of back-to-backs. … Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated 13:16 in his second game back after missing nearly three weeks with a lower-body injury. Hornqvist was also dropped during a second-period fight with New Jersey’s Damon Severson.
Devils: Welcome Detroit on Saturday night. New Jersey has dropped four straight to the Red Wings.
Penguins: Host Calgary on Monday. The teams split their two meetings last season.
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