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Penguins/Devils Recap: Pens light up the scoreboard on light up night, win 4-1

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The Pittsburgh Penguins get a great team effort and skate away to a fairly easy win over the last place New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Lineups

A very rare instance for the Penguins: same lineup as the last game. Except for in net where Tristan Jarry relieves Matt Murray for a night on the back-end of a back-to-back situation.

First period

Dominik Kahun opens the scoring, making an awesome deke past a sprawling Devils defender Mirco Mueller and then Kahun flips a backhand shot against the grain over the shoulder of Mackenzie Blackwood to get the Pens on the board first.

Pittsburgh keeps up the pressure, Evgeni Malkin almost scores on the power play on a nice chance but doesn’t. Otherwise it’s steady as she goes, 18-6 PIT are shots, the Pens had their legs still going from last night and the Devils (off for 72 hours) looked rusty and couldn’t keep up early but they would start the second on the overhang of a power play due to a Chad Ruhwedel penalty.

Second period

And the Devils would strike early in the period on that power play, courtesy of future Penguin* (*maybe) Taylor Hall. As mentioned in the game preview, Hall only had two goals on the season in 71 shots and that low goal total wasn’t going to last forever on a player so talented and unfortunately for the Pens he got one here to tie the game at 1 after catching a nice little bump pass from Nico Hischier.

The Devils take a penalty and then take out Jake Guentzel with a rough hit. Patric Hornqvist takes exception and gets in Damon Severson’s face over it. They call it a fight and give Hornqvist an instigator even though he didn’t even drop his gloves, so...ok.

Guentzel shrugs off that hit and gets sprung on a breakaway on a nice pass by Evgeni Malkin. Guentzel coolly dekes to the backhand and tucks it past Blackwood to make it 2-1.

The rest of the period is pretty wide open and New Jersey carries a lot of the play. Tristan Jarry does well to stop 19 of 20 shots this period and the Pens are up by a goal headed into the third.

Third period

Late leads have been a problem lately for Pittsburgh, but it’s no problem tonight. Jared McCann extends the lead when he absolutely wires a shot to the back of the net and extend the lead to 3-1 just 2:05 into the third.

Just 25 seconds later rookie John Marino delivers basically the KO shot by wiring a slapper through two Devils defenders to push the score to 4-1.

Jersey pulls the plug on Blackwood at this point and give Louis Domingue his first taste of action in a NJ jersey but this game is basically on cruise control from here on out and that’s the end of the scoring.

Three finals thoughts

Marino magic. It’s a four game point streak now for John Marino, who has gone from unknown to the best right handed defenseman (and arguably one of the best defensemen) remaining in the lineup at this point. Marino only played 33 games last year in college at Harvard, how long can he keep it up? Seems like a question for a different day because right now he’s finding his stride (playing 21:22, most among Pens’ dmen besides Brian Dumoulin, 5 SOG, 2 takeaways, 0 giveaways). Marino is such a poised player all over the ice and looking more and more confident with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone.

Top line strong again. The Guentzel-Malkin-Rust line has been very dangerous and that continued again. All recorded a point, and had 12 of the team’s 41 shots on goal. All three were in the 58-65% Corsi% on the night, just controlling play and tipping the ice big time as the Pens need their big guns to keep on firing.

Beasting a bad team. The domination didn’t end with the top line. Total scoring chances at 5v5 were 24-16 (60%-40%) for the Pens. High danger chances were 9-7 (56.25%-43.75%). And they made it count with Kahun and McCann chipping in from down the lineup. Shots were close to even (41-37) but Pittsburgh did what they needed to, showing a killer instinct to convert on chances in the third and “step on the throat” of a visiting and lesser team for the rare low-stress game for them against a usually annoying NJ opponent.

The Pens have to feel good about this one. Kris Letang is on the comeback trail, but no other reinforcements are close at the moment to returning to the lineup. After a night like this, it looks like the current team and system being run is more than enough to keep it rolling. The Pens get a well-deserved Saturday and Sunday off from games after playing three games in four games and collecting four points in the standings (1-0-2) in the rush of being undermanned. For now, it looks like all systems go.