PITTSBURGH 3 – NEW JERSEY 2
The Pittsburgh Penguins pounced on the New Jersey Devils scoring three first period goals from Pascal Dupuis, Jason Megna, and Chris Conner as the Devils were a disaster, notably goaltender Corey Schneider in the first 20 minutes of play.
“We weren’t ready to play, that’s on me,” Devils coach Peter Deboer said. “The first period killed us.”.
All true but it ended up being a game where the Penguins stole two points.
The Devils completely dominated play in the second and third period but Penguins netminder Marc Andre Fleury was outstanding making 37 saves. The Penguins were careless with the puck and had one of their worst defensive nights on the season as they gave up a number of Grade-A chances, especially in the third period when holding a 3-2 lead. Fleury stood tall for his league leading 18th win of the season.
“He’s going to tell you it’s nice to be able to get a lot of shots and flurries and action at his net,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “But I think he’d just assumed not have grade-A chances on him at key points of the game, especially in the third period.”
The Penguins were outshot 39-23, including 32-11 over the final two periods of play and this is how bad New Jersey dominated play in the second and third period: Overall in the game, New Jersey had 84 shot attempts to the Penguins 40 shot attempts.
New Jersey nearly missed sending the game to overtime in the final seconds when Patrick Elias showing his age flat out missed a beautiful pass from Jaromir Jagr for what would have been a tap in goal. At the end of the day, with a little luck on their side, Cup contenders find ways to win these type of games over inferior teams and that’s what we saw last night with Fleury being the difference maker.
The biggest takeaway from this game, though, is that the Devils gave a blueprint to other teams on how to attack the Penguins. In the eastern conference, aside from the Bruins, any coach in a best of seven game series against Pittsburgh later this season should watch the tape of this game.
The Devils played a “heavy” offensive game, establishing the cycle and were very aggressive on the forecheck, especially their d-men in pinching. The Penguins don’t like to be hit.