PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins tallied three first-period goals and held on to sneak by the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Friday at CONSOL Energy Center. The win pushed the Penguins' home winning streak to a season-high seven games and increased their overall lead atop the Metropolitan Division standings.
Just 41 seconds into the game, the Penguins pounced on a rebound and stuffed it past Devils goaltender Cory Schnneider. Left winger Chris Kunitz dumped the puck in on net from the neutral zone, but the fluttering puck handcuffed Schneider. It appeared to the 18,582 in attendance that Schneider had frozen the puck, but forward Pascal Dupuis and the officials saw that the puck was still loose. Dupuis rushed in to stuff the puck over the goal line.
Pittsburgh went ahead by a pair at the 7:55 mark of the first when center Brandon Sutter took a hit along the right wing boards to make a pass to streaking right winger Chris Conner who was skating unobstructed through the slot. Conner beat Schneider with a hard wrist from the slot.
The Penguins made it 3-0 when center Jayson Megna, positioned near the bottom of the right wing faceoff circle, took the rebound of a shot from defenseman Simon Despres and wristed it off the right post and in for his fourth of the season at 14:40.
New Jersey came out a different team in the second period and began to cut into the Pittsburgh lead. At 3:24, defenseman Anton Volchenkov threw a shot toward the net from the left wing boards that was easily tipped and re-directed past Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury from in tight by left winger Patrik Elias.
Less than a minute later, the Devils pulled to within one when right winger Jaromir Jagr fired a wrist shot from the left wing faceoff dot that hit Fleury and slowly trickled toward the goal line. Center Dainius Zubrus pushed the puck over the line with one hand on his stick. For how dominate the Penguins were in the first, the Devils unquestionably carried the play in the second, outshooting Pittsburgh 19-5.
Near the 12-minute mark of the third, Fleury made his best save of the contest, sprawling to deny center Damien Brunner, who had broken in alone. This was just one of 37 New Jersey shots that Fleury turned away to earn his 18th win of the season. Schneider made 20 saves in defeat.
NOTES: The Penguins have lost 153 man-games to injury, the Devils have lost 121. ... Devils RW Jaromir Jagr and LW Patrik Elias are the NHL's 1st and 8th active scorers, respectively. ... Heading into Friday's action, the Penguins' healthy defensemen had a combined total of 1,189 career games played, while their injured defenseman Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, and Rob Scuderi, have a combined total of 1,865 career games played. ... Scratches for the Penguins were LW James Neal (suspension), and D Brian Dumoulin. Scratches for the Devils were LW Mattias Tedenby and C Andrei Loktionov. ... Both teams will be in action again Saturday. The Penguins will travel to Detroit and the Devils will host Tampa Bay.