In just the third home game of the season, the Penguins welcomed the New Jersey Devils to the Consol Energy Season for the first of a best-of-five series with last season’s Eastern Conference Champions. Riding high after a shutting-out the New York Rangers on Thursday, the Penguins were looking to add another two points to the win column in a season where, at the end of it, every single point is going to matter.
Both teams would exchange a couple of good scoring opportunities and a couple penalties in the first, with respective net-minders Marc-Andre Fleury and Martin Brodeur being tested early and often. With just seven seconds left to go on the clock, Sidney Crosby would be called for a trip, giving the Devils the man advantage at the start of the second. The Penguins held a slight advantage in shots, edging the Devils 8 to 6 after the first twenty.
The Penguins would open the scoring in the middle frame, their first coming from Brandon Sutter. Sutter, acquired by Pittsburgh for Jordan Staal last June at the NHL Entry draft, earned his first in a Penguins uniform (and, obviously, his first of the season) on a beautiful set up courtesy of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin just two and a half minutes into the frame. Chris Kunitz would give the Pens a 2-0 lead after picking up a puck from Devils’ defenceman Anton Volchenkov and snapping it past Brodeur. The lone Devils goal of the game would come courtesy of Andy Greene on a short-handed opportunity after Patrik Elias was sent to the box. Heading into the third, the Penguins would have the advantage in shot, this time ‘round outshooting New Jersey 12 to 4.
The third period would be all Penguins, with Pittsburgh notching three unanswered goals in the final frame on their way to a 5 – 1 victory, their first at home. Two and a half minutes into the frame, Kris Letang would blast a snap-shot past Brodeur. Kunitz would find Letang waiting between the circles, where he would pick up the puck and hold it before sizing up the zone and firing a blast into the net. Crosby would follow with a goal of his own, carrying the puck to far circle and beating Brodeur top shelf. The final Penguins goal would come from Robert Bortuzzo. The goal would be Bortuzzo’s first NHL goal and would result from a slap shot from midpoint that would beat Brodeur five-hole. It was Bortuzzo’s second game with the club this season after being called up from Wilkes-Barre to fill the hole created by the injury to Matt Niskanen. In the final five of the game, the Devils would begin to pressure Fleury but it would to be of no avail as they would be unable to beat the Pens net-minder. The Penguins would finally earn the ever-elusive home victory much to the delight of the home crowd.
The Penguins would outshoot the Devils 30 to 16, Sidney Crosby sending five shots toward Brodeur while Kris Letang had four. Paul Martin led all skaters with 24:50 of ice time while Kris Letang recorded 23:20. The Penguins also had a new addition to the lineup in the form of Zach Boychuk. In his first game with the organization, Boychuk averaged twelve minutes of ice time skating on the line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.
The Penguins will head to Washington tomorrow where they will face off against the Capitals for the first of two games this week. Game time is 12:30pm.