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Penguins vs. Devils Recap: Merry Christmas, Pens win

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Sidney Crosby scores yet another goal, Evgeni Malkin chips in 2 assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins run away with a relatively easy 4-1 win over the visiting New Jersey Devils. Pittsburgh goes into the Christmas break on a high note

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

The Penguins switch it up slightly from last night, after his costly blunders Derrick Pouliot is back to healthy scratch status and Steve Oleksy slots back in. Brian Dumoulin on the right-side is over too after 3 games and all d-pairs are back to lefty-righty with the debut of first-pair Justin Schultz .

Petulant act or directed to do so/maybe some kind of skate or equipment issue? Hopefully the latter otherwise there could be a maturity issue for management to address..We'll see how or if this is dealt with (and there is a holiday roster freeze right now) but it certainly isn't a good look on the surface for a young player to dip out early, first and alone like this.

1st period

For the 8th time this season Sidney Crosby scores the first goal of a hockey game. This time on a slapshot from the right side of the ice on the power play. 1-0.

Total shot attempts in first: Pens 26, Devils 4. (SOG: Pittsburgh 10, NJ 2). Marc-Andre Fleury gets a nice quiet start for once, and one he deserves really after a rough season.

2nd period

Pittsburgh scores again, some nice work by the entire 4th line and eventually off a Matt Cullen play the puck bounces off a couple Devils defensemen (and for tonight at least) the goal is given to Eric Fehr as it skitters off of the skate and in the net. 2-0 Pens.

New Jersey gets on the board to make it 2-1, Kyle Palmieri gets right at the edge of the crease perfectly to screen Fleury then finds a loose puck before Dumoulin and Schultz can then pokes it home. The Pens challenge for goalie interference but the refs don't find much so the goal stands.

The Devils almost tie it when Andy Greene outskates Evgeni Malkin but Fleury makes a nice save to keep it at 2-1.

Steve Oleksy gets in his second fight in as many days, when Eric err Miles Wood, whoever the hell that is, comes in after a whistle and uppercuts Oleksy for some unknown reason, leading to an exchange of fists.

In the final minute of the period Chad Ruhwedel scores his first career NHL goal (in his 35th career game, and 2nd as a Penguin) with a pass to the point by Chris Kunitz and a screen in front of Cory Schneider by Patric Hornqvist . Nicely done. 3-1.

Shots 17-14 Pittsburgh in the 2nd period (27-16 overall in the game).

3rd period

Minutes go by, the Devils don't play with much urgency even though they're in a hole...Nothing much goes on until 7 minutes and change left, Malkin loses an offensive zone faceoff, but he gets to the right place at the right time on the wall to cut to off another weak clearing attempt. Malkin passes over to Patric Hornqvist who rips a shot home for his 8th goal of the season. 4-1.

NJ doesn't put up too much more of a fight and that will do it.

Some Thoughts

  • For good reason Olli Maatta has been getting ragged on a little lately, and his points and offense are way down, but he made a great, subtle play to intercept a clearing attempt and keep the play alive for what turned into the second goal of the game. Maatta wouldn't get a point on the goal but a nice job by him, under the radar.
  • After getting drubbed last night, the Pens certainly came out fired up tonight. NJD, for their parts, were 4-0 winners against Philly last night and weren't very sharp (to put it nicely) early in the game. Weird how hockey can completely flip like that depending on the night.
  • Something to notice: Sullivan's proving to be very aggressive in challenging goals against with his 1 chance very early, even under not that much video evidence. While you can't get a call over-turned if you don't challenge, you also lose your timeout no matter what (and also chance to challenge later).
  • Another good night for the new look second line of Kunitz (1a) - Malkin (2a) - Hornqvist (1g), who were responsible in creating the Pens 3rd and 4th goals of the night.
  • Aside from the first four games, the Penguins still haven't lost back-to-back regulation games under Sullivan. Impressive stuff, especially with how he had them coming out hot early in the game.
  • Not just because of the goal, but even when the Pens get to full health, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have Ruhwedel as the #7 guy. Right handed, can skate, proving to have decent offensive instincts and doesn't look like a liability at all defensively.
  • After a full season of tough games and not much help, good to see a complete, dominating type of effort for the Pens in front of Fleury. As we said above, surely he deserved this by now. Off top of mind, he probably only had about 2-3 shots on net that were remotely dangerous and several stretches of inactivity as Pittsburgh controlled play.
  • Cory Schneider is usually very, very good but wasn't that sharp tonight, even though he was bombarded by the Pens with shots against. The Devils, in general, just looked like a team out of gas and ready to get to Christmas dinner a day early after playing well last night. Hey, one way or another, we'll take it.
  • Be sure to check out our friends at All About The Jersey who always do a great job in breaking down games.

That's it for this one, on behalf of everyone at Pensburgh thanks for tracking with us and a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to you all. Stay safe and be well.