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Penguins end home woes, top Devils

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins finally showed some life on their home ice.

After two desultory losses at Consol Energy Center to open the season, the Penguins got their first win in front of their fans Saturday by beating the New Jersey Devils 5-1 as Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz each had three-point games.

Coach Dan Bylsma bemoaned his team's lack in energy in those home defeats: 5-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs and 4-1 to the New York Islanders. However, the Penguins (5-3) clearly got the better of the play in their third home game, holding a decisive 30-16 edge in shots on goal while sending the Devils (3-1-3) to their first regulation loss of the season.

"It's definitely nice to get a win at home," Crosby said. "We had a couple of frustrating games here and we wanted to make sure we kind of stayed focused and maybe brought the same attitude we had on the road at home. We had a little more patience. We stuck with things and it's something to kind of build off."

Crosby, Kunitz, Brandon Sutter, Kris Letang, and Roberto Bortuzzo had goals for Pittsburgh. Bortuzzo's was the first of his career and Sutter's was his first with the Penguins.

Crosby and Kunitz each had two assists as did Pascal Dupuis and Evgeni Malkin. Kunitz was in the lineup after missing Friday's practice because of illness.

Andy Greene scored New Jersey's lone goal.

"I like that we scored a lot of goals but the way we got them is more indicative of how we played the game," Bylsma said. "It wasn't a freewheeling game. It wasn't chance-for-chance. We got rewarded with some forecheck goals. That's how you keep playing defense, by playing offense in the offensive zone."

Marc-Andre Fleury needed to make just 15 saves for the win, quite a contrast from his previous start. On Tuesday, he was pulled after the second period in the loss to the Islanders after giving up four goals on 17 shots.

Nashville is the only NHL team without a home win as the Predators are 0-0-2 at Bridgestone Arena.

Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur was sharp early but wound up stopping just 25 of 30 shots with all five goals coming in the final two periods. New Jersey lost its fourth straight game, the previous three coming in overtime.

"It wasn't pretty, but a good team like that, if you don't show up with your 'A' game they can make you look bad and that's what happened," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "One mistake compounded into two or three and, you know, we don't lose our composure that way very often, but it happened. We didn't work hard enough offensively to create enough chances. That's the bottom line."

Sutter broke a scoreless tie at 2:27 of the second period, putting a wrist shot past Brodeur following off a backhand pass from Crosby. Sutter was the Penguins' biggest offseason acquisition, coming from Carolina for fellow center Jordan Staal in a draft night trade.

Sutter is considered a defense-first forward but Bylsma decided to put him on a line with superstars Crosby and Malkin.

Kunitz's unassisted goal at 9:56 of the second gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead. New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov put the puck right on Kunitz's stick on a failed clearing pass and Kunitz converted it for his second goal of the season with a snap shot.

The Devils sliced the lead to 2-1 on Greene's shorthanded goal as he slid the puck between Fleury's pads.

The Penguins put the game away with a three-goal barrage in the first half of the third period.

Letang scored his second at 2:31 and Crosby's fourth at 7:11 to make it 4-1. A little more than 2 1/2 minutes later, Bortuzzo scored his first goal in his eighth career game by blasting a slap shot from the point under Brodeur's pads.

"To get one past Brodeur is pretty exciting," Bortuzzo said. "That's a world-class guy in goal right there."

Notes: Left winger Zach Boychuck made his debut for Pittsburgh two days after being claimed off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes. He played 12 minutes, took one shot and had three hits. ... New Jersey defenseman Mark Fayne missed his second straight game with an arm injury. ... Rookie center Stefan Matteau was a healthy scratch for the Devils. New Jersey is deciding what to do with Matteau, who has played five games. If Matteau plays in a sixth game, it would count as one full year on his three-year entry-level contract. ... Healthy scratches for Pittsburgh were centers Dustin Jeffrey and Eric Tangradi and defenseman Ben Lovejoy. ... This was the first of three games between the Penguins and Devils in a nine-day span. They play back-to-back at New Jersey on Feb. 9 and at Pittsburgh on Feb. 10.
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