A happy return for the Penguins, who get Teddy Blueger back from the IR for his first game in almost a month to bump Mark Jankowski to healthy scratch territory.
Welcome back to the lineup, Teddy Blueger! pic.twitter.com/rGqhlDxirC— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 11, 2021
Just 2:35 in and on their first shift, the Pens’ fourth line strikes. Nice chip from Marcus Pettersson out of the zone and eventually Teddy Blueger gets a shot, the rebound bounces behind the net where Colton Sceviour corrals it and quickly darts out and jams it past Mackenzie Blackwood to make it 1-0.
Solid start for the boys in black and gold! pic.twitter.com/XkaUzBGOo8— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 11, 2021
Just a few minutes later, the fourth line strikes again off an offensive zone faceoff win by Blueger. Mike Matheson gets the puck to the net from the point and Sceviour is there to tip in his second goal of the game and his fifth of the season to extend Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-0 before the first TV timeout.
Can we please talk about Colton Sceviour recording two goals in the first six minutes of the game? pic.twitter.com/L8uFlOR4BP— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 11, 2021
Late in the first the Devils keep within striking distance by getting on the board. Sami Vatanen skates down the right side and throws a puck to the front. Miles Wood drives to the net and is strong enough on his stick to avoid Sceviour’s defensive efforts and gets the goal. 2-1 Pens.
Wood Crashing the Net— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 11, 2021
: Bratt pic.twitter.com/mH6E7hlXtI
Shots in the first are 10-5 Pens, who played well and got a couple of flash goals from Sceviour to put their stamp on the game early on.
New Jersey comes out stronger in the first, getting the first eight shots of the period. Tristan Jarry is strong to keep it all out. Sam Lafferty takes the game’s first penalty for hooking but the Pens kill off the penalty.
As the period is about to expire with 40 seconds left, the dangerous Pittsburgh top line strikes to extend the lead. Bryan Rust finds space in the zone and zips a shot in. 3-1.
But wait, the Devils challenge for goaltender interference. Jake Guentzel is parked at the top of the crease but outside of it, but Sidney Crosby was battling in front with Ty Smith. There was a frenzy, but it didn’t really look like the Pens prevented the goalie from playing his position in the blue paint and after a review the refs agree. It’s a good goal and NJ goes to the box for the first time for the failure on the challenge.
Shots in the second are 14-6 New Jersey, but they fail to score, then give up a back breaker of a goal late...And then take a penalty making a last ditch effort to reverse the goal.
On the carryover power play with fresh, clean ice, the Pens power play takes a while but they finally cash in. Blackwood robs Crosby with a great save but the puck stays free. Jared McCann grabs that loose puck behind the net and hits Rust out front. Rust makes a nifty pass over for Jake Guentzel who has an easy tap in, and he makes no mistake. 4-1 Pens.
P.K. Subban takes the puck to the net past Cody Ceci and makes contact or at least throws Jarry out of his element as the puck trickles over the line. After a lengthy review, the refs determine this too is a good goal and that makes the score 4-2 with 12:30 remaining in the game.
The Pens elect not to challenge any further. Seems smart, because, hey, the refs just spent like 5 minutes looking at it. Probably not going to change their minds with more time.
With 6:30 left the Devils get their second power play of the game when Blueger clears the puck over the glass accidentally but the Pens kill it off.
At the 3:15 mark the Devils pull their goalie while down two, looking to get another 6v5 goal like they scored on Friday against the Pens. It goes for naught though as Sidney Crosby recovers a puck that got dumped in and hits Guentzel for an ENG. 5-2 Pens.
- On the six game road trip Guentzel recorded at least a point in every game, going 5G+5A in that stretch. He’s almost like a silent assassin right now, just quietly and consistently going about his business in such a clinical manner.
- It was a two point night for Rust (1G+1A) as well. Rust racked up five points (3G+2A) in the two game set against the Devils this weekend. Be it at even strength or the power play, the Pens top line is playing at a scary good level right now.
- Sceviour is up to five points (3G+2A) in the last six games with his two goal night tonight. Not bad for a guy who is probably about the 14th or 15th forward on the depth chart if the team is ever fully healthy. And also might go to show that Pittsburgh doesn’t need to bring in another fourth line body just to have an extra body. The players they have, be it Sceviour, Radim Zohorna and the returning Blueger are just fine.
- Can’t blame the Devils for challenging the goal. There wasn’t an out and out mugging of their goalie, but there was enough mayhem where maybe the officials would see a reason to reverse it. Never know what they may do. If they did reverse it, it’s back to 2-1 going into the third. Instead, they upheld the goal call and the Pens cashed in on the power play awarded for the failed challenge to make it 4-1 early in the third and, oof, that pretty much seals the deal.
- Five of the six Pens’ defensemen registered assists (only John Marino was held off the board) as the offense from the defense continues in a major way. Great play by Pettersson to start the game’s first goal, great job by Matheson to get the puck on net for the second goal. Getting depth defense contributions like that are very critical for the aggressive way the Pens play.
- The Devils lost Pavel Zacha to an injury early in the second period, leaving to some double shifting for Jack Hughes. Tough loss in game there for a team looking for a comeback.
- Pittsburgh power play staying hot and going 1/1 while the embattled PK finds a way to go 2/2 really put a major impact on this game. Reverse some of those results on special teams, and the game might go the other way. Instead, that’s how you win games to take the edge on both specialty units.
Now the Pens get a precious three days of no games to regroup and heal some of minor bumps and bruises that come with playing a condensed schedule. And they get to return home too, if only for a game. With the trade deadline looming, there figures to be no shortage of drama and excitement off the ice in the near future though as the season shifts into the stretch run.