Ever heard of “the devil on your shoulder?” Well, this weekend, that particular devil, where the Pittsburgh Penguins were concerned, hailed from New Jersey (possibly taking the form of Martin Brodeur even if he wasn’t in net) as the Penguins would fall to the Devils for the second time in as many days this evening on the ice of the Consol Energy Center. The final score would 3 to 1 in favour of New Jersey, placing them three points ahead of the Penguins atop the Eastern Conference Standings.
Immediately following puck drop, Robert Bortuzzo would go toe-to-toe with New Jersey’s Ryan Carter, providing some early entertainment for fans and teammates alike.
The Pens would earn quite a few changes but would be unable to get the puck past Devils’ net-minder Johan Hedberg. In fact, the Pens would outshoot the New Jersey 10 to 4 through the first twenty. However, one of those four Jersey shots would, unfortunately, find its way past Tomas Vokoun, giving the Devils a 1 to 0 lead after the first period. The goal would be credited to David Clarkson, who would barrel his way down the ice and beat Vokoun with a snapshot.
The second would be all Devils, as New Jersey would score two more unanswered goals, never giving up their lead or allowing the Pens to tie it up. There would be some tense moments early on in the period would New Jersey’s Stephen Gionta slid head first into the boards after losing his footing. He would be slow to get to his feet but would manage to make it down the runway with the help of the Devils’ athletic trainers. He would return to the ice and finish the game seemingly unharmed. The teams would continue to exchange scoring opportunities, the ice open to both teams. However, with just over eight and a half minutes left in the period, it would be the Million Dollar Man, Ilya Kovalchuk, giving the Devils’ a 2-0 after earning a 2-on-1 and beating Vokoun five-hole. Just two minutes later, Clarkson would earn his second of the night, picking up a rebound from Patrik Elias. Clarkson’s goal was a power play goal after James Neal had been called for a cross-check with 12:09 gone in the period. This time ‘round, the Devils would outshoot the Pens 13 to 5, heading into the final twenty with a commanding lead.
James Neal would attempt to get some momentum going early on in the third, his goal coming with just fifteen seconds off the clock. The Penguins passing would shift Hedberg side-to-side and he would not be able to get across the net fast enough to beat Neal’s one timer. But, that would be it for both teams. Vokoun would be pulled with 1:33 left in the game and while the Devils would be held without an empty-net goal, the Penguins would be held without another goal period. Pittsburgh would fall for the second time this weekend by a score of 3 to 1.
Paul Martin would continue to lead all skaters in ice time, play 28:52 while Evgeni Malkin would follow with 24:01. Malkin would have five shots on goal while Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis would each have 4. The Penguins would send 24 shots toward Hedberg while Vokoun would face 23.
The Pens will enjoy a much-needed two day rest before earning a visit from the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. Game time is 7:00pm.