Pittsburgh Penguins' balance on display vs. New Jersey Devils

By Shelly Anderson, The Sports Xchange   |   March 18, 2017 at 2:29 AM
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins got goals from five players Friday and took over second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 6-4 win over the New Jersey Devils at PPG Paints Arena.

Pittsburgh (44-17-9) leapfrogged Columbus and moved to within one point of first-place Washington.

The teams traded goals in the first period -- New Jersey's Kyle Palmieri and Stefan Noesen, Pittsburgh's Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel -- before Sidney Crosby scored late in the period for a 3-2 Penguins lead. Nick Bonino for Pittsburgh and Beau Bennett for the Devils scored in the second to make it 4-3 going into the third.

Carter Rowney then scored his first NHL goal, from a sharp angle, to boost Pittsburgh's lead to 5-3. New Jersey's last gasp was a second goal by Palmieri (five goals in three games) with 3:31 left, but Crosby scored an empty-netter.

Crosby's two goals moved him back into a tie atop the league lead with 37 goals.

New Jersey (26-32-12) was trying to win for a second night in a row following a 10-game losing streak. The Devils could have moved ahead of Detroit and out of the Eastern Conference cellar with a win.

New Jersey opened the scoring on a Palmieri breakaway. Palmieri got around defenseman Derrick Pouliot in the neutral zone, skated down the slot and tucked the puck behind the left skate of goaltender Matt Murray at 5:35 of the first.

The Penguins tied it 1-1 just 1:02 later. Kessel, playing left wing rather than his customary right wing, attempted a cross-zone pass, but it banked off of a Devils player. The puck caromed back to Kessel, who scored from the slot.

It was Kessel's 22nd goal, and it broke a 13-game goal drought that was his longest since a 14-game stretch from Jan. 13-Feb. 12, 2011, when he was with Toronto.

Guentzel gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead at 13:30 of the first when he got a rebound and had an open net behind Kinkaid. Crosby's secondary assist gave him 640 for his career, tying him with Jaromir Jagr for second all-time in franchise history.

This time, it was the Devils who answered quickly. Noesen took a backhand pass from Pavel Zacha and batted a bouncing puck over Murray's blocker to make it 2-2 at 14:02 of the first. John Quenneville got the secondary assist for his first NHL point.

Crosby broke that tie during a Pittsburgh five-on-three power play with a one-timer, making it 3-2 with 14.5 seconds left in the first.

Bonino lifted the puck over Kinkaid's blocker at 15:47 of the second to produce the first two-goal difference in the game, 4-2.

Bennett, who began his career with Pittsburgh, chucked the puck over Murray on a rebound with 51 seconds left in the second to cut it to 4-3.

NOTES: Penguins LW/RW Phil Kessel was awarded, and stopped on, a penalty shot with 21.5 seconds left in the second period. ... Pittsburgh LW Conor Sheary missed several minutes in the second period when he got hit in the face with the puck while sitting on the bench. ... Even with RW Patric Hornqvist (concussion) returning after missing five games, Pittsburgh had seven players out because of injury. One was C Evgeni Malkin, who left the morning skate early. Coach Mike Sullivan said Malkin has been dealing with an upper body injury for a while. The team hopes to have an update Saturday. ... Pittsburgh recalled D Derrick Pouliot from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to fill in for Ron Hainsey, who left Wednesday's game at Philadelphia with an unspecified injury. ... Penguins LW Tom Sestito returned after serving a four-game suspension. ... New Jersey, which played Thursday, did not hold a morning skate. ... Pittsburgh scratched D Cameron Gaunce. The Devils' healthy scratch was D Steven Santini.

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