Home > Game Recap > Game 26 Recap: Crosby, Pens Continue Devils Road Woes

Game 26 Recap: Crosby, Pens Continue Devils Road Woes

The Devils entered tonight’s game desperate for a consistent effort and two points. The team went up against their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hadn’t lost a regulation game in their past ten contests. While the Devils put forth a consistent effort, it was the same losing effort. The Penguins defeated the Devils, 2-1, sending New Jersey to their sixth straight road loss.

Sidney Crosby celebrates his game-winning goal with teammates during the second period of tonight's game. Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Sidney Crosby Sinks The Devils

There’s one name that makes Devils fans instantly feel nervous and angry at once – Sidney Crosby. Coming into tonight’s contest, the Penguins captain recorded 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in 33 career games against the Devils. Crosby carried a 15-game point streak into the matchup as well. And in only two periods, Crosby collected two points – including the game-winning goal – to sink the Devils.

Crosby’s first point of the night – an assist – helped even the game, 1-1. The Penguins moved through the neutral zone, and didn’t look to have anything developing. A cross-ice pass was tipped by Adam Mair, but Crosby used his back skate to kick the puck to his stick blade. The Penguins’ captain then moved down into the Devils’ zone along the side boards. He passed across the ice to Pascal Dupuis, who fired a one-timer past Johan Hedberg for his eighth goal of the year.

Crosby’s second point of the night proved to be the game-winning goal. With the puck in the Devils’ zone, Alex Goligoski drove to the faceoff circle and shot the puck. Hedberg made the initial save, but the puck caromed off his pads and to the side of the net. Crosby, all alone, dropped to one knee and fired the puck into the open net for his 24th goal of the season.

Crosby was the reason the Devils lost tonight. As much as fans despise him, he’s virtually unstoppable right now.

Brian Rolston scored the Devils lone goal tonight on the powerplay. It was the team's third in their last eight opportunities on the road. Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Devils’ Powerplay Shows Life

One of the Devils’ major problems during the season has been the powerplay. It’s been especially dreadful on the road, where the team had one powerplay tally prior to Saturday’s game against Philadelphia. But New Jersey went 2-for-3 against the Flyers, and that solid play continued against the Penguins, accounting for their only goal of the night.

With Dupuis in the box for hooking during the first period, Mattias Tedenby controlled the puck and brought it around the net. The rookie right-winger moved from behind the net and found a streaking Jason Arnott entering the Penguins zone. Arnott one-timed the pass, but the shot went wide right. The puck hit Brian Rolston, but the left-winger stayed with the puck and fired home the shot for his second goal of the season.

For all of the man-advantage struggles, the Devils have shown improvement the past two games. Their 3-for-7, good for about 43 percent. Combine that with better numbers at home, and the Devils powerplay is showing improvement.

John MacLean’s Swan Song?

The Devils needed a win tonight, plain and simple. Another loss meant yet another losing streak and another loss against a quality opponent. As its been all year, the Devils failed to capitalize on opportunities and allowed other teams to dominate games. Instead of stretching leads, the Devils watched them slip away. They couldn’t get anything going, and it might have cost their coach his job.

As I posted here, I don’t believe MacLean should get the axe. Two weeks ago, this team looked like it was turning a corner. But since winning three of four two weeks ago, the Devils dropped three straight. They haven’t shown any signs of a turnaround under MacLean. The team has three days off before they face Ottawa. General manager Lou Lamoriello may feel this is the best time to change coaches.

For the rest of the recap, follow after the jump.

The Moose Keeps Trucking

The Devils haven’t had much to celebrate about this season. One player, however, became a pleasant surprise. Hedberg, who didn’t look good early in the season, played phenomenally well during Martin Brodeur’s seven game absence. He stopped 31 shots tonight and kept his team in the game.

“Heddie played well,” MacLean said after the game. “He’s played well when he’s been called upon. Those goals you can’t really fault him on, and he kept us in the game.”

None of us expected Hedberg to play this much, but he’s been solid during his relief appearances. He doesn’t have the record to show it, but Hedberg’s been the Devils MVP during the first quarter-plus of the season.

The Penguins honored former Devil and Penguin Bill Guerin before tonight's game. The right-winger announced his retirement today. Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Miscellaneous

The Devils penalty killers were 5-for-5 tonight. That’s pretty good considering they were facing the Penguins.

Ex-Devil Paul Martin recorded two shots on net against his former team.

Ilya Kovalchuk put three shots on net tonight, the same amount as such great goal scorers as Mair and Anton Volchenkov.

The Devils have been outscored, 18-9, during their six-game road losing streak.

Bill Guerin announced his retirement before the game. I’ll have a longer post up soon, but the Penguins honored their former player before the game. It was a pretty classy gesture.

Next Game:

The Devils finish their three game road trip Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.

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