Pittsburgh (29-19-4) looks for its third impressive win in as many tries at the Devils’ arena Monday when the Atlantic Division rivals meet for the sixth time this season.
Home ice has been a disadvantage when the Penguins and Devils have met this season. The road team has won all five meetings, with the Penguins posting a pair of convincing victories in Newark.
Pittsburgh dealt New Jersey its worst home loss of the season Nov. 5, winning 5-0, a result that was enough to make New Jersey coach Brent Sutter question his team’s effort and commitment after the game.
The Penguins weren’t quite as dominant when they returned to the Prudential Center on Tuesday, but three second-period goals were enough to get them a 4-2 victory, their fourth straight in New Jersey.
“That’s the way we know we have to play especially at the end of the year when you’re going to get a lot of these tight, close games in the division,” Pittsburgh’s Ty Conklin said after stopping 23 shots Tuesday. “It was a good way for us to start the stretch drive.”
Just two points separate the top three teams in the Atlantic, the NHL’s most competitive division. The Penguins sit one point behind Philadelphia, with New Jersey (29-20-3) one back of Pittsburgh.
The Penguins improved to 3-2-1 since Sidney Crosby went down with a high ankle sprain Jan. 18, beating Carolina 4-1 on Saturday. They trailed heading into the third period but recorded four goals in the final 20 minutes, the 10th time this season they’ve score at least three times in a period.
“We kind of saved the best for last,” said Erik Christensen, who scored his eighth goal of the season less than a minute into the third. “Once we get that one, everyone wants more. We were certainly frustrated in the first two periods.”
Christiansen has goals in his last three visits to New Jersey.
Pittsburgh has continued to play well in Crosby’s absence in large part because of fellow rising superstar Evgeni Malkin. The 21-year-old left wing had a goal and two assists against the Hurricanes, giving him five goals and four assists in the six games since the reigning Hart Trophy winner was injured.
Malkin has a seven-game point streak against the Devils, compiling four goals and five assists in that span.
New Jersey has played seven of its last eight games at home, yet is 2-5 in Newark during that stretch. The Devils play five of their next six on home ice as well.
One of the home victories during that stretch came in their most recent game, a 6-3 win over league-worst Los Angeles on Saturday.
Defenseman Colin White had an assist to go along with his first goal in 126 games as the Devils, in the league’s bottom five in scoring, reached the six-goal mark for the fifth time this season.
“I wouldn’t expect it too often,” White said. “It’s nice to chip in every now and then. I stopped looking at the number when it reached 100 games. I hope it doesn’t take this long for another one.”
Patrick Elias has given the Devils an offensive boost lately. The team’s second-leading goal scorer (15) has five goals and two assists in his last five games.
Martin Brodeur is second in the league with 27 wins and has a 2.22 goals-against average, but he’s 3-5-0 with a 2.78 GAA in his last eight starts.
He has a 3.46 GAA in his last six starts against Pittsburgh.