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Penguins/Devils Recap: Super fourth line on Sunday. Pens beat NJ 4-2

The Pens get two goals while their fourth line was on the ice, including a Brian Boyle third period goal that stands as the game winner

Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Penguins and Devils got together for a Super matinee in New Jersey a battle of two teams both entering the day with two-game winning streaks. It would be the visitors that would extend their streak to three.

It wouldn’t start out so promising for the Pens. In the second period, the Devils scored but didn’t get credit for it. After P.K. Subban posterized no less than Brian Dumoulin (didn’t see that one coming, did you!) the puck ended up in the net on a scramble in front. But the goal was wiped out due to a premature whistle. Soon after, New Jersey would get the karma evened out when Jack Hughes scored on the rush. 1-0 New Jersey.

The Penguins answered back a few minutes later with Mike Matheson wiring a hard shot through traffic that beat Jon Gillies.

Early in the third period, Pittsburgh went ahead shortly after a power play expired. Bryan Rust continued his goal scoring ways, tipping in a Kris Letang point shot to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Pens.

To their credit, the Devils wouldn’t go down without a fight. They were able to tie the game at 2 with their final goal of the game just two minutes later. Nico Hischier threw the puck on net and it was bouncing around everywhere and strangely ended up sneaking past Jarry.

Brian Boyle scored a bit later to put the Pens in front for good, nothing fancy on this one, just the big guy getting to the net, finding the puck and putting it in. 3-2 Pens.

The Devils would pull their goalie and the Pens’ first line was able to seal the deal with Jake Guentzel getting the empty netter for the game’s final score of 4-2.

Some thoughts

  • Today’s penalty was only Ruhwedel’s second in 45 games (which now marks a new career-high in a season for games played for him too). And I seem to recall he didn’t really even deserve the first one. That should be near Lady Byng caliber to be a regular defender in the NHL and basically never take penalties.
  • Goal No. 500 will again have to wait for Sidney Crosby, but it was still a very good and noticeable game for the captain. He recorded two assists and had four shots on goal. Especially early on he was gunning for the net and actively looking to shoot a lot, which isn’t always the way he plays. The landmark will come in due time.
  • The poor state of the ice was a storyline in this game. They mentioned on the broadcast the arena hosted a concert last night and the game was delayed an hour to a 1:30 start from its original start time. The puck wasn’t laying well, and as you could see on the highlights of the Hischier goal (which only happened 2:51 into the third period and should have been on a fairly fresh and good sheet of ice), it affected the game. Both teams had to navigate it just the same, but the poor conditions were felt.
  • Bryan Rust has scored 16 goals in the last 16 games he has played. My goodness, he just finds the way to hit the back of the net. Real shame for him that he missed so much time this season (he has 37 points, 17 goals in 27 games), his final numbers could have been something. Hell, it still might end up being that way. What a groove he is in right now.
  • Really liked Evgeni Malkin’s game in his return from COVID. He was hunting the puck and very active and visible defensively, with a game-high three official takeaways. That is always the key to when his game to get and keep him fully engaged all over the ice, and he certainly was in this game.
  • His linemates though?...The Pens still seem to need to re-work their second and third lines around a bit, nothing going again in this game for Kasperi Kapanen and Evan Rodrigues and Brock McGinn just isn’t much of a fit to work well with Malkin.
  • The fourth line, however, was going great. Aston-Reese failed miserably on a terrific one-time scoring chance when he shot the puck right into the goalie. He made up for it a bit by screening the goalie on Matheson’s goal. All of Aston-Reese, Boyle and Dominik Simon were at 78%-86% Corsi in this game, Boyle was on ice for 19 CF to just 3 against, with shots 9-2 in the Pens’ favor. Two goals of the three goals without a goalie in the net for the Pens on the day. Great day for the fourth line, they don’t tend to pitch in tangibly a ton, but their fingerprints were all over this win.
  • The Devils were on a two game winning streak too. They’re not playing bad hockey at the moment. Solid road win, day game, end of a road trip, all that stuff. Bad ice, not many power plays called (just five total for both teams combined), giving up the first goal. There were a lot of factors not in the Pens’ favor. Yet they kept the game close late, and found a way to get the two points and extend their own winning streak to three.
  • The “Jersey” jerseys are bad. It feels like a one-off short-term jersey that we look back in 5-10+ years and wonder how in the world that they actually happened.

Pens return home and get ready for the Flyers on Tuesday. Now that sounds like a great time for 500 for Sid.