Published on February 9th, 2013 | by James Conley0
Brodeur, Devils Take Atlantic, East Leads from Pens in 3-1 Win
Pittsburgh cut the ruts to the penalty box two times too many Saturday, racking up 12 minors and 29 penalty minutes in a sloppy 3-1 loss to the Devils Saturday.
Bobby Butler and Adam Henrique cashed in on third-period power plays and Stefan Matteau scored his first NHL goal in the second period. Brandon Sutter scored a power play goal for the Pens early in the first period, but the team could muster nothing but near-misses for the remaining 58 minutes of the game.
The Devils take a one-point lead over the Penguins in the Atlantic with a game in hand, and can add to their lead Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh (8-4-0, 16 points) drops to second in the Atlantic and fourth in the East with the loss, the first game they’ve dropped in their last six. The Devils, now owners of a four-game winning streak, move into the top spot in the conference for the day.
The Pens were marred by penalties throughout the contest. Pittsburgh took 12 minors on the day, for a total of 10 power play chances against and 29 total PIM. They managed to kill off eight of the 10 shorthanded situations, two fewer than they would need on the day. It’s the second time in a week Pittsburgh has gone repeatedly to the box, as they racked up seven minors against the Islanders Tuesday, though they managed to kill off all seven chances then.
In total, the Penguins have had to kill off 19 power play chances in their last three games, with 17 of those bids coming in two road games.
Evgeni Malkin took three minors on the day, just enough to offset the three power plays he drew. Malkin had an up-and-down game, his minors marring a series of beautiful scoring chances and one excellent shift in the defensive zone.
At even strength, Malkin and James Neal have yet to get things going as they did last year. Zach Boychuk has struggled to help the line during five-on-five play, and could be a candidate for a healthy scratch soon.
The lone bright spot for the Penguins was their defense, which managed to somehow kill eight of the ten power plays against them and were solid at even strength. Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres continue to gain more ice time with each contest, and should remain with the club even after Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen return from injury.
The team’s sore spot heading into the season, a top-six of Orpik-Martin, Letang-Niskanen and Bortuzzo-Despres could do real damage if the rookies continue to develop as they have through their time in Pittsburgh so far.
Pittsburgh can even the home-and-home series with the Devils and retake the division lead with a win Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Image Francisco Diez @ flickr