PITTSBURGH (AP)—Forget about the New Jersey Devils’ early season flirtation with a faster-paced offense. They’re back to doing what they do best: trapping, defending and getting excellent goaltending from Martin Brodeur.
Zach Parise scored two power-play goals to support Brodeur’s 501st NHL victory, and the Devils held on despite Pittsburgh’s strong third period for a 2-1 win Wednesday night.
Parise scored five seconds after the Devils’ two-man advantage ended in the first period, then took advantage of a tripping call on Penguins captain Sidney Crosby to score again off Jamie Langenbrunner’s rebound early in the third.
The last-place Penguins lost their sixth in seven games and eighth in 10 games and are 8-11-2 after winning 47 games last season.
New Jersey is 3-0 in Pittsburgh this season and leads the season series 3-1. By winning, New Jersey (9-10-2) moved two points ahead of Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division.
“It’s frustrating, I’m not going to sit here and say it isn’t, but at the same time there’s nothing we can do but keep battling, keep going,” Crosby said. “It’s adversity and we’ve got to make sure we stay on the same page. I wouldn’t change a whole lot about our game right now, honestly.”
This game, he wishes he could change. Crosby was so irate with the tripping call, he was penalized again for unsportsmanlike conduct while leaving the penalty box.
New Jersey couldn’t take advantage of that power play and, instead, the penalty may have gotten the slumping Penguins going following two flat periods in which Brodeur faced only 16 shots and Pittsburgh had a lone power play.
“They were plugging up the neutral zone, and the only way to beat that is to move your feet,” Crosby said. “If we’re skating, we’re going to draw penalties. The third (period), we got some calls, and that’s from moving your feet.”
Evgeni Malkin got the Penguins back in the game, stealing the puck off Johnny Oduya’s stick as he was reaching for a pass on an up-ice rush and snapping off a shot for his eighth goal. Malkin extended his point streak to 14 games, but Crosby’s ended at 19.
Later in the period, Brodeur stood up to several good Penguins scoring chances during a two-man advantage that lasted 29 seconds and the ensuing full power play, with Crosby and Petr Sykora unable to score from in close. Brodeur, who made 25 saves, also turned aside rookie Kristopher Letang.
“What can you say? Some of the saves he made were unbelievable,” Parise said. “That’s why he’s the best right there.”
Earlier, Brodeur stopped Crosby on a short-handed breakaway and turned aside Sykora twice during a power play, throwing out his glove while sprawled in front of the net to stop Sykora’s initial shot.
Brodeur needs 50 more wins to match Patrick Roy’s career NHL record, so that is a while off. That’s fine with Brodeur, who was more relaxed Tuesday than he has been all season.
“Every time I’d go somewhere before, it (No. 500) was brought up to me,” Brodeur said. “Now that I got it in the books, it’s definitely nice. There’s bigger and better things ahead, but that won’t be for a while. Right now I can just play hockey and we can just try to get back on the right track.”
Parise has five points and three goals in his last two games and seven points, including three goals, in four games against Pittsburgh. He had a goal and two assists Saturday in Brodeur’s 500th win, a 6-2 victory at Philadelphia.
Devils defenseman Colin White played for the first time this season, taking regular shifts nine weeks after a deflected shot during practice damaged his right eye.
White still has blurred vision, but wanted to test his eyesight during game action. He resumed practicing two weeks ago but, until Tuesday, had skated only with the Devils’ extra players.
“I can find the puck, and I felt pretty good,” White said. “It will take a couple of games to get my legs totally back under me. I’ll just keep it short, keep it simple and build up my conditioning.”
Crosby had a point in every game since the season opener. … Penguins F Mark Recchi, who has 510 career goals, was scratched for the second time this season. … Pittsburgh went 2-6-1 during a nine-game stretch against Atlantic teams. … Penguins F Gary Roberts doesn’t have a goal in 15 games. … Penguins F Maxime Talbot (sprained ankle) was scratched and is expected to miss at least two more games.