Penguins hold on for victory over Devils
New Jersey Devils winger Jaromir Jagr is defended by Penguins’ defenseman Matt Niskanen and center Sidney Crosby during the first period Friday.
New Jersey’s Bryce Salvador, left, collides with Penguins forward Chris Conner in front of Devils goalie Cory Schneider during the first period Friday.
PITTSBURGH – Pascal Dupuis scored 41 seconds into the game and the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins used a big first period to beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Friday night.
Chris Conner and Jayson Megna also scored in the first for Metropolitan-leading Pittsburgh, which has won seven of eight. The Penguins also extended their home winning to seven games.
Marc Andre-Fleury improved to 12-2 at Consol Energy Center, making 37 saves – many of them on quality chances over the final 40 minutes of the game.
Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus scored 56 seconds apart early in the second period, but New Jersey dropped to 1-4-1 in its past six.
After Pittsburgh took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, the Devils controlled the remainder of the game. But Fleury was sharp.
Perhaps his best saves came on Steve Bernier – twice, with a pad and then his stick while sprawling – with 14:40 to play in regulation.
Fleury then denied Damien Brunner on a partial breakaway.
Fleury is second in the NHL in home wins and goals-against average and third in save percentage at home.
Dupuis’ goal set the tone, coming off a misplay by Devils goaltender Cory Schneider.
Chris Kunitz carried the puck into the zone and flipped a fluttering puck on net as he crossed the blue line. Schneider had trouble covering it, and Dupuis eventually poked it in for his fifth of the season.
Conner then made it 2-0 at 7:55 when Brandon Sutter sprung him alone in the slot and he used a wrist shot beat Schneider for his second goal of the season.
Megna, a rookie in the lineup only because of injuries and the suspension of winger James Neal, scored for the second time in four games — his fourth overall — with 5:20 to play in the first.
But the Devils took 15 of the first 16 shots of the second period and had a 19-5 advantage in shots in the period overall.
Elias scored 3:24 into the second after a failed New Jersey power play. Zubrus then pushed a fluttering puck that was sitting on the goal line into the net after a Jaromir Jagr shot deflected off Megna’s leg, making it difficult for Fleury to handle.
The Penguins survived a frenzied final push by New Jersey, avoiding the fate of allowing a goal to an opponent that had its goalie pulled for the third game in a row.
Penguins D Brooks Orpik skated briefly Friday morning. Orpik, who is still experiencing concussion symptoms, is not expected to return to game action anytime soon. He has not played since Boston’s Shawn Thornton grabbed Orpik from behind, pulled him to the ground and punched him, knocking him unconscious. Thornton has been suspended indefinitely, and his hearing with the NHL was Friday. ... C Sidney Crosby earned an assist on Dupuis’ goal, extending his point streak to five games. ... The Penguins, who are 14-3 at home, have scored at least three goals in 14 of 17 games at Consol Energy Center. ... Elias has a five-game point streak.
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