The Pittsburgh Penguins survived quite the scare against the New Jersey Devils, almost blowing a 6-0 third period lead, but ultimately earning both points in a 7-6 victory. Tristan Jarry got the nod in goal for the Pens and had a very smooth first two periods stopping all 19 shots faced. The third period, however, told a completely different story as the netminder struggled, allowing six goals on 11 shots in the frame, but did enough to hang on for the victory.
“I’ve never been through an experience like that,” said a flustered Mike Sullivan. “It’s not an easy one to react to. Not a lot went right for us. We certainly know that. We’ve got to be a whole lot better to close out games and not put ourselves in those types of positions.”
The team came out flying, scoring four first-period goals including Jeff Carter’s first goal as a member of the team. Mike Matheson opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season just three minutes into the game, followed by a goal from Bryan Rust and another from Brian Dumoulin who scored off of a crazy bounce dump-in from center-ice that increased the Pens lead to three. Carter’s goal put the Pens ahead by four heading into the intermission after a dominant first frame.
Jeff Carter, who now has a goal and an assist through four games with the team discussed how he’s settling in with his new team: “It’s totally different than what we played in LA, so it’s been a big adjustment. But it’s definitely coming along. Still a few things I need to tighten up, but Canner and Zucks have been great with me. There’s been lots of communication.”
|03:49||PIT||Mike Matheson (5)||Cody Ceci, Jared McCann|
|08:04||PIT||Bryan Rust (18)||Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel|
|08:49||PIT||Brian Dumoulin (3)||Tristan Jarry|
|17:56||PIT||Jeff Carter (9)||Jared McCann, Kris Letang|
|01:12||PIT||Teddy Blueger (6)||Evan Rodrigues, Zach Aston-Reese|
|15:18||PIT||PP||Evan Rodrigues (7)||Jason Zucker, John Marino|
|00:41||NJD||PP||Nico Hischier (4)||Nicholas Merkley, Will Butcher|
|05:14||NJD||SH||Yegor Sharangovich (11)|
|08:48||NJD||Nathan Bastian (3)||Will Butcher, Miles Wood|
|11:15||PIT||Sidney Crosby (18)||Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust|
|12:52||NJD||Jack Hughes (10)||Yegor Sharangovich, Janne Kuokkanen|
|13:56||NJD||Nolan Foote (1)||Nicholas Merkley, Damon Severson|
|19:19||NJD||Andreas Johnsson (4)||Miles Wood, Will Butcher|
The Devils pulled goaltender Scott Wedgewood to start the second period and replaced him with backup Aaron Dell, but the move did little to change the momentum of the game as the Penguins continued to assert their dominance with a goal from Teddy Blueger, and an Evan Rodrigues powerplay goal. The Penguins finished the second period ahead by a whopping 6-0 scoreline.
Game over…right? Wrong.
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The third period was one of the craziest periods of hockey played in all season and began to look like an immaculate collapse of a dominant Pens side. Devils Captain Nico Hischier scored on a five-on-three powerplay to put the team on the board, followed by a Yegor Sharangovich shorthanded goal to cut the lead to four. At the 8:48 mark of the third, Nathan Bastian’s deflection got past Jarry and the comeback seemed to be more and more realistic at this point. Just over two minutes later, Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby found the back of the net for the 18th time this season to stifle the Devils’ momentum, a goal that nobody expected would turn out as the game-winner.
Within two minutes after Crosby’s goal, Jack Hughes and Nolan Foote each scored big goals to cut the lead to two, with Foote’s goal being the first of his career. The Devils bolstered the attack and put the Penguins under immense pressure, and with the extra attacker on the ice at 19:19 of the third period, Andreas Johnsson scored to make it a 7-6 game. Luckily, the Pens were able to hold onto their narrow lead for the final 41 seconds of the game to seal a thrilling victory.
“It’s two points at the end of the day.” said goal scorer Evan Rodrigues. “At this time of year, that’s all that matters. Obviously, we have to have a better third, but it’s two points and we move forward.”
Bryan Rust discussed the near-collapse postgame saying: “Obviously, something clearly went wrong. We were definitely lucky enough and fortunate enough to be able to get out of there with two points in regulation.”
Despite almost blowing a six-goal lead, the Pens did ultimately come out on top with two very important points over the Devils and will undoubtedly try to quickly forget about the nightmare third period, and focus on the dominance that they displayed throughout the games first 40 minutes. The Devils however will look to use the gained momentum during the third period to come out stronger when these two teams face-off again on Thursday night at 7PM EST in the second of three meetings between the two sides. The Pens remain in third in their division with 61 points, just one point back of the Caps and Isles who sit tied for first place.