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Penguins hold off Devils for Metro Division victory

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The Pittsburgh Penguins won their second straight game on Friday night as they defeated the New Jersey Devils, 3-2. The victory didn’t come easy as the Penguins had to hold off a strong surge form the Devils in the second period.

It didn’t take long before the Penguins jumped out to an early lead. Forty seconds into the first period, Chris Kunitz flipped the puck on net which Cory Schneider thought he had. However, the whistle never blew and puck remained uncovered. Seeing this, Pascal Dupuis gave the puck a poke over the goal line to give Pittsburgh the 1-0 lead. Almost eight minutes later, Pittsburgh struck again. It happened when Devils defenseman Jon Merrill had some difficulty handling the puck in the neutral zone. Joe Vitale threw the puck forward to Brandon Sutter who quickly found Chris Conner all alone in the slot. Conner made a few strides before wristing the puck past Schneider to give the Penguins a two-goal advantage. The Penguins still weren’t done scoring. At 14:40, Simon Despres fired a shot on net from the point after receiving a pass from Deryk Engelland. The shot was initially stopped by the New Jersey goaltender, but Jayson Megna was sitting on the doorstep to put the rebound behind Schneider. The Penguins took their 3-0 lead into the first intermission while the Devils were trying to figure out what was going on.

The second period saw the New Jersey Devils rebound nicely from a disastrous opening frame. New Jersey was able to score two goals within a minute of each other starting at 3:24 of the period. Patrik Elias struck first when he deflected an Anton Volchenkov shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to shrink the Penguins’ lead to two. Right after the Elias goal, Dainius Zubrus lightly tapped a puck over the goal line after a scramble in front of the Pittsburgh net to pull the Devils within one of the Penguins. After the second period, the Devils only trailed 3-2, and led in shots 19-5 during the period.

The Devils looked to build on a strong second period, but Marc-Andre Fleury would have none of that. The third period was all Fleury as he shut the door on the Devils with some fantastic saves. At 5:21, MAF made a diving stop with his stick on Steve Bernier, who looked to have an easy open-net goal. Fleury followed up his save on Bernier with a stop on Damien Brunner about six minutes later. Brunner took a pass from Bernier and had a breakaway from the blueline in. He made a few good dekes, but Fleury was ready and made a stop with his glove. The Penguins held off a later period charge by the Devils to secure the 3-2 victory.

The Penguins don’t have much time to reflect on their victory as they head to the site of their 2009 Stanley Cup triumph, Detroit, to take on the Red Wings Saturday night (7:00 pm/et; Root Sports, FS-D, NHL Network).

Notes:

-Marc-Andre Fleury now leads the league in wins with eighteen.

-Jayson Megna has six points in thirteen games. Not bad for an undrafted kid. He is definitely taking advantage of his time playing with Evgeni Malkin.

-Still waiting for Brian Dumoulin’s NHL debut…

Three stars:

1. PIT G Marc-Andre Fleury (37 saves, .949 save %)

2. PIT RW Chris Conner (1G)

3. NJD C Dainius Zubrus (1G)

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