The New Jersey Devils made it four straight against Pittsburgh as Martin Brodeur made 32 saves, recording his 105th career shutout, leading the Devils to a 2-0 win Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.
Pittsburgh played their most competitive game against New Jersey this season but failed to get anything past Brodeur for the second consecutive time. In four meetings this season, the Devils have outscored Pittsburgh 14-2.
Pittsburgh has now dropped three straight while New Jersey has won 14 of its last 17 games to improve to 28-9-1 on the season.
The Devils who lack the star power that the Penguins have, are among the best skating teams in hockey, reminding some scouts of the Devils teams in the early part of the decade.
For Pittsburgh’s part, they showed the ability to combat the Devils transition game for the first time this season.
Both teams had outstanding chances in the third and Pittsburgh had a prime opportunity to force over-time when Travis Zajac was called for holding with 1:26 remaining in the third period.
It was Pittsburgh’s only power play chance in the game but Brodeur closed the door on Sidney Crosby & co.
Aside from a fluky first period goal, Brent Johnson gave the Penguins another strong performance in goal. Johnson made 31 saves including a number of key stops early to keep the Penguins in the game.
Nearing the mid-point of the season, New Jersey owns the best record in the NHL and will own a much needed tiebreaker against Pittsburgh come playoff time.
New Jersey or Pittsburgh isn’t going away as both teams will be in the mix all season long for the division title.
However, the head-to-head tiebreaker could come into play down the stretch. Getting the 4th seed instead of a 1 or 2 seed will likely mean a first round date with a Buffalo or Boston.
McKee a healthy scratch
Dan Bylsma continues to mix up his lineup as defenseman Jay McKee was a healthy scratch tonight against New Jersey.
McKee was replaced in the lineup by Martin Skoula.
Meanwhile, Ruslan Fedotenko returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Tuesday night against Buffalo. Eric Godard was the Penguins other healthy scratch.
Penguins will travel back to Pittsburgh
The Penguins are off to a 0-2 start on a tough four game road trip and the team will return back to Pittsburgh for two days, then depart for Florida.
The team will practice in Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday.