The Penguins roll with what has become their go-to lineup lately.
New Jersey, however, is far from in an ideal spot. Still no Jack Hughes and Timo Meier can’t play tonight either, so they go with 11F+7D.
#NJDevils lineup v. PIT going 11-7:— Sam Kasan (@samikasan) November 16, 2023
Toffoli – McLeod – Bratt
Palat – Mercer – Holtz
Willman – Haula – Lazar
Nosek – Bastian
Siegenthaler – Hamilton
Bahl – Marino
Smith – Hughes
Bryan Rust stays hot in the 2023-24 season and against the Devils overall by lifting a shot on his backhand to the top of the net. 1-0 Pens.
Fun fact: Bryan Rust has 27 points (15G-12A) in 34 career games against the Devils. It’s the most points he’s picked up vs. any one team and seven more than his next closest opponent. pic.twitter.com/2wi1uFiXET— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 17, 2023
Pittsburgh gets the first power play of the game, but it’s one of the really bad versions. Even before they give up a goal while up a player, which they do. Curtis Lazar shoots in on Tristan Jarry who doesn’t look very ready for a shot. 1-1 tied back up.
Shot had a fricken Lazar beam on it. pic.twitter.com/pObcJP2kNa— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 17, 2023
The Devils out-shoot the Pens 10-9 in the first.
Rust pulls a repeat card and opens the scoring in the second period too. Play is started by Sidney Crosby rushing up the ice, he finds the trailing player in Erik Karlsson. Karlsson throws the puck on net and with Jake Guentzel and Rust in front looking to get a piece of the incoming shot, Rust does. 2-1 Pens back out in front.
Doesn't look Rusty to us pic.twitter.com/rZvdyPS69N— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 17, 2023
New Jersey hangs tough and responds on the very next shift. Nathan Bastian punches in a rebound to tie the game back up almost immediately.
Bass Pro Shot gets us level. pic.twitter.com/H8SitavfU2— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 17, 2023
Rest of the period goes by without much notable.
Crosby gets called for a penalty early on for tripping to send NJ to their first power play, but the Devils send it back to 4v4 when Kris Letang gets tripped up. Unfortunately from there it’s the Pens figuratively tripping up with Guentzel, Letang and Ryan Graves all offering extremely limited resistance to NJ - as if thinking they wouldn’t push it while about to go back to the PK. Well they pushed it. Jesper Bratt out-waits Tristan Jarry and skates himself into having a shooting angle. 3-2 game sends the Devils to their first lead of the night with 17:25 to play.
Hughes-to-Bratt of any variety is music to our ears. pic.twitter.com/QRrXHmZN4G— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 17, 2023
Marcus Pettersson almost ties the game but hits the post.
The Devils pull away with 8:36 left. Dawson Mercer tricks Jarry as to which side he was going to bring the puck out of, and with the Penguin goalie looking the wrong way, Mercer feeds the puck to the other side and Alexander Holtz slams it in.
Holtz onto your butts, we’ve got a 4-2 lead! pic.twitter.com/WQEwelgJVb— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 17, 2023
Then NJ rips it all the way open. Tyler Toffoli leaves Chad Ruhwedel in the dust on the rush and fires a shot high on Jarry. 5-2.
The one and only: Tyler Toffoli. pic.twitter.com/fuAZFAnQXF— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 17, 2023
No timeout or goalie change, so we roll on. Evgeni Malkin is tripped with 5:12 to go to offer one more power play. No dice.
Luckily the game ends before it could get worse. The score was tied entering the third, but it was New Jersey who delivered a decisive outcome by the end of this one.
- NJ was down J. Hughes, Meier and Nico Hischier, but it didn’t slow them down a lot. Super fast team. Looked like they were channeling their inner-Boston Bruins to play tight, play hard, give up little, wait for their star winger (Bratt in this case) to open the game up.
- Very impressive game from the Devils. Down some big guns and losers of three straight, one might see that as a good chance to punch down on a team, but they took it as a chance to rally and get back to playing well. Winners of five straight, maybe the Penguins were a little too complacent. Pittsburgh was in good enough shape on the scoreboard for 40 minutes, until suddenly they weren’t. But it did feel like they were skating uphill for most of the night, nothing was coming easily for them. (Well besides for Rust anyways).
- Jarry was red hot coming back from his injury but brutal in this game. His defense didn’t do him a lot of favors but the big saves were few and far between. Moneypuck had expected goals at 3.17 - 3.08. Felt about right. But the Pens gave up 5. Ouch.
- Gotta wonder if Jarry’s last 10 games (four games, one injury requiring stitches) was going to catch up to him eventually. That might not sound excessive on the surface, but it hasn’t been an easy stretch. Perhaps more troubling, given the schedule ahead and the primary backup still working into shape, the Pens need Jarry moving forward more than ever to bounce back.
- For all those reasons, found it very odd they didn’t lift Jarry after the fifth goal. The wheels were off and it didn’t seem like any real good reasons to keep the starter in for the onslaught.
- In good news though, Crosby (10) and Karlsson (7) extended their personal point streaks.
- In the bad news, Rickard Rakell extended his personal “not scored a goal all season” streak a well. Earlier on it looked like reasons for optimism with some Grade A chances and lots of good shots. Now, it feels like he’s fading away and being more invisible and further from scoring by the game. He recorded a few shots, but it wasn’t like he was that close to breaking the goose egg tonight.
- Rust has really turned around his finishing from last year, the Pens generated enough expected goals but the non-Rust players scored 0 actual goals on 2.6 compiled expected ones. The goaltending was iffy, the defense was poor in moments, but when the team’s whole offense is only one player...That isn’t going to be winning hockey.
And it wasn’t. The Pens get some of the wind knocked out of their sails and see their winning streak come to an end. But, hey, they have an 8-7 record now, so that’s pretty cool. And a chance to get back at it on Saturday in Carolina.