The Pittsburgh Penguins took baby steps Thursday night scoring their first goal in 160 minutes played as Ruslan Fedotenko netted his fourth goal of the season at 11:32 of the first period but Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur shutout the Penguins after that.
Brodeur made 25 saves and Travis Zajac had three assists as the New Jersey Devils defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 Thursday night at Mellon Arena to take over first place in the Atlantic division.
It was another night of struggles for Pittsburgh who controlled the game for the first 30 minutes but the Devils got better as the game went on, outscoring the Penguins 4-0 in the final two periods.
The Devils improved to 9-0 on the road and are now 10-1 in their last 11 games.
Pittsburgh has lost four straight and the Penguins are now 1-5-0 in their last six games after a 11-2 start.
A glaring stat is that Pittsburgh only has one goal in their past three games and are 0-for-26 in their past 7 games with the man advantage.
Despite being without Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, Tyler Kennedy, Brooks Orpik, Max Talbot and Kris Letang, Pittsburgh isn’t making excuses, especially the coaching staff.
The staff has not been happy with the defensive breakdowns and the losses have been frustrating for the Penguins.
“We got used to winning, so it’s frustrating to get those losses,” goaltender Marc Andre Fleury said.
What has been impressive with the Devils 10-1 run, is that they have been able to withstand the losses of Rob Niedermayer, Paul Martin, Johnny Oduya, Jay Pandolfo and Dean McAmmond.
Like the Penguins, the Devils are missing a number of key players including their top two defensemen in Paul Martin and Johnny Oduya.
Martin is one of the most under-rated defenseman in the game and the Devils losing Martin is like Pittsburgh losing Sergei Gonchar.
The Devils and Penguins are two teams going in opposite directions but help is on the way for Pittsburgh.
Evgeni Malkin is on target to return to the lineup Saturday night against Boston.
Another bright spot is that Max Talbot is progressing and is 10-14 days away from returning to the lineup.
The injury to Brooks Orpik is not as bad as once feared and he will be out for two weeks at the max and many sources inside the organization indicate Orpik will be back before two weeks.
With Kris Letang and Sergei Gonchar also due back in 7-10 days, Pittsburgh expects to finally have a healthy lineup by Thanksgiving.
Tyler Kennedy’s return remains up in the air. Kennedy has not skated since last Thursday in Los Angeles due to a groin injury.
Pittsburgh is being very cautious with Kennedy. Kennedy is not expected to return to the lineup until next week at the earliest.