Pittsburgh’s Marcus Pettersson appeared to score the winner earlier in overtime, but the Penguins were called for a too-many-men penalty on the play.
"I just found some space over there and was hoping to get it and just took a swing at it,'' Hamilton said of his winning goal. "I'm obviously happy it went in."
The Devils have won two straight at home in overtime, beating the Rangers 4-3 on Jan. 7 in the same manner. New Jersey had a 4-0-1 trip between the overtime victories at Prudential Center.
“Not every game is going to be a Picasso. We found a way to win a hockey game,'' Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. ”We played the game the right way."
New Jersey moved 10 points ahead of Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division, and the Devils are two points behind division-leading Carolina. They have three games in four days later this week before the All-Star break.
Hughes opened the scoring 56 seconds into the game, beating Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry (23 saves) on the glove side for his 30th of the season. Hamilton got the lone assist.
The 21-year-old Hughes, in his fourth season with New Jersey, is the second player in Devils history to reach the 30-goal mark before his 22nd birthday. Brendan Shanahan reached the milestone on March 29, 1990.
“We played well enough to win. I thought we did a really good job defending,'' Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “There was a lot to like about this game. Our team is playing hard, giving us chances to win.”
Crosby leads the Penguins with 54 points in his 18th NHL season. He has 39 goals and 49 assists in 88 career games against the Devils, Crosby’s third-highest total against one franchise (52 vs. Philadelphia and 40 vs. the Islanders).
The only active player with 40 or more goals against three different franchises is Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, who has done so against eight teams.
The Penguins are 2-0-2 in their last four games.
“It was a tight game. We had some looks they didn’t go in," Crosby said. "They got a power play and that was the difference. We have to find that type of game consistently and that will give us a chance to win."
Vanecek won his seventh straight decision, improving to 19-5-2 in his first season with the Devils.
“I’m trying to help the team win the games, trying to help them as much as possible,'' Vanecek said. “That was really tight game. Both teams scored really early so you’re thinking it’s going to be a long game, so many goals, but they didn’t.”
The Devils are 17-10-2 against the Eastern Conference and 9-5-2 against division opponents … The Devils scratched forwards Alexander Holtz and Fabian Zetterlund and defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk … The Penguins scratched defensemen Ty Smith, Jan Rutta and forward Kasperi Kapanen … The Devils won the previous meeting, 4-2 on Dec. 30 in Pittsburgh … The teams meet again Feb. 18 in Pittsburgh and Apr. 4 in Newark.
Devils: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.
Penguins: Host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
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