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Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin power Pittsburgh Penguins past New Jersey Devils

By Jim Cerny, The Sports Xchange
Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils got off to a strong start, but the Penguins had the better finish Tuesday night at the Prudential Center, as Pittsburgh rallied for a 5-2 victory.

The Penguins (23-8-5) erased a pair of one-goal deficits behind big nights from their big guns. Sidney Crosby had three points and Evgeni Malkin added a pair, including the 800th point of his NHL career, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 shots in the victory.

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New Jersey (13-15-7) raced to a fast start with P.A. Parenteau scoring off a two-on-one rush with Taylor Hall just 1:18 into the game. Malkin evened the score at 6:43 of the first period.

With the Penguins on a power play, Malkin buried a cross-ice feed from Crosby for his 15th goal of the season and milestone 800th career point.

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"It's a good number," Malkin said after the game. "I'm glad I scored a goal here and we win. It was very important. I want more. Every day, every practice, every game, I want to play hard and try to do my best."

New Jersey regained the lead less than two minutes later with a power-play goal. Adam Henrique hammered his ninth into a gaping net at 8:23 to put the Devils up 2-1.

While the Devils' power play came through on its first opportunity of the game, New Jersey failed on its final six power plays Tuesday, including a four-minute double minor for high sticking called against Pittsburgh's Ian Cole late in the third period.

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"We did a good job on our first one, but our power play was an anchor all game," Hall said.

Despite their power-play struggles, the Devils held onto their 2-1 lead until midway through the game when the Penguins pulled even again at 10:56 of the second period, this time on Crosby's league-leading 25th goal in 30 games this season.

Crosby, who worked feverishly on a backcheck earlier on the shift, skated the full sheet of ice and buried a Conor Sheary feed for the well-earned tying goal.

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Pittsburgh then scored right before the second intermission, not only taking its first lead of the night, but deflating the Devils in the process.

With the teams skating four-on-four and the clock winding down on the middle period, Crosby zipped a pass to Malkin over the Devils' blue line. Malkin dropped a pass to Justin Schultz, and the Penguins defenseman weaved his way in on left wing before wiring a snap shot past New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider with 5.4 seconds remaining to put Pittsburgh ahead 3-2.

"(Malkin) made a good play, dropping it, and I had some room, and saw a little room up there, and I was lucky enough that it went in," said Schultz, who has seven goals on the season and 17 points in his past 14 games.

Carl Hagelin scored on a breakaway 3:13 into the third period as the Penguins opened a two-goal lead. Bryan Rust finished off the Devils with an empty-net goal at 18:42 as the Penguins improved to a perfect 52-0 over the past two seasons when leading after two periods of play.

Following the game, Schneider, who finished with 24 saves, was still furious at the way his team reacted to falling behind late in the second.

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"Late goal in the second, 3-2, and you would have thought the game was over, would have thought it was 5-1 at that point," Schneider said. "You just didn't see the urgency from everyone to really want to tie that game."

NOTES: Three injured Penguins skated Tuesday morning for the first time since their recent injuries: D Kris Letang (lower body), D Trevor Daley (upper body) and RW Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body). They did not play, along with D Olli Maatta, who remained in Pittsburgh due to an unspecified ailment. ... Three players returned to the Devils' lineup Tuesday: RW Devante Smith-Pelly, RW Nick Lappin and D Kyle Quincey. ... New Jersey recalled D Yohann Auvito from AHL Albany on Tuesday, but he was a healthy scratch along with C Sergey Kalinin. ... Devils coach John Hynes said that injured C Jacob Josefson (upper body) is skating with the team and will be further evaluated later in the week.

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