For 42 minutes not too much was really going on in the game between the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins. A couple posts hit here, one shot rung up high off Cory Schneider there, but not generally too much. About the only noteworthy thing was a high, heavy and late hit by Robert Bortuzzo knocking out Jaromir Jagr.
Until the new 2nd line of Jayson Megna, Blake Comeau and Evgeni Malkin combined for the only meaningful goal of the game to send the Pens on their way to a 1-0 win.
Quite the difference from when these teams met in late October and the Pens won 8-3 in a goal-fest. This one was more like a war of attrition. In addition to Jagr leaving, the Devils lost Patrik Elias and Stephen Gionta in the first period. The Pens had seen Simon Despres, Patric Hornqvist and Scott Wilson go back to the dressing room at different points of the game. Some might have been for equipment issues, but Wilson did not return for the 3rd period.
As a result, a little bit of a sloppy, nasty, ugly game. After scoring a goal, Malkin got in a couple of post-whistle scrums with Devils and even drew a misconduct with 4 minutes left to go. But, luckily, by then he had already scored the only goal of the game.
A few more thoughts:
- It's always interesting to me to see which players get tasked with killing a penalty late in a 1-goal game. the Pens sent Craig Adams and Brandon Sutter out- to be expected- but then for the second unit used Megna and Nick Spaling. Megna over other options like Hornqvist, Comeau, Sidney Crosby, Zach Sill huh?
- New Jersey attempted 61 shots (with 29 getting on target) and Pittsburgh only 45. The Devils may even have controlled the puck more, but the Pens seemed to want to make more passes and try to find the perfect goal. Sometimes it doesn't work, but hey the goal they scored was the result of a nice spinning pass across the ice from Comeau to Malkin.
- Nice night for Fleury to record another shutout. He made a few big saves and had 2 memorable instances where his posts helped him keep the puck out. But keep the puck out he did.
- Shame that Wilson seemed to get dinged up somewhere along the way in his first NHL game. Hopefully it's not too bad, players only get so many chances at NHL opportunities and this could be a golden one for Wilson, but you can't make the club from the tub.
- Kris Letang was formally placed on IR, so he'll have to be out at least for next game. So get used to this current defensive alignment for one more game, minimum.
- That alignment got Simon Despres some time on the PK (1:45) and PP (1:38) and bumped his overall ice-time up to 18:28 his highest in recent memory.
- 7 hits for the night for Bortuzzo who was jousting with Jagr and ratcheting up the physical game all night long.
- The PP didn't look good, but down 2 of the normal members (Letang and Chris Kunitz) perhaps to be expected.
- The PK at least was much better, and they got a lot more work too with the Devils getting 4 chances. Two nice short-handed chances for Sutter too, after getting sprung by nice plays from Adams. Couldn't convert, but it'll happen sooner or later. And, if nothing else it gets the puck moving the right way in a out-manned situation.
Whether it's 1-0 or 8-3, it counts as 2 points in the standings just the same. The Pens will take it and move on to the next one Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.