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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Brian Boyle scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, Tristan Jarry made 28 saves and the Pittsburgh Penguins kept rolling with a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
Mike Matheson, Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel also scored for the Penguins, who won their third straight overall and sixth straight on the road. Pittsburgh improved to 7-1-3 in its last 11 games.
”We’re trying to play the game that gives us is the best chance to win and our players I think have a real good understanding of what that looks like,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of his team’s road prowess. ”When we’re on the same page from a collective effort standpoint, I think we’re a team that that plays a stingy game.”
Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier scored for the Devils, who had scored seven goals in each of their last two games – both road wins – but nonetheless fell to 3-8-0 in their last 11.
”We were right there. Some plays we just left out there,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. ”Our puck play was not quite as strong as in the previous two games we won.”
Boyle whipped the puck past Devils goalie Jon Gillies at 6:58 of the third. The 37-year-old forward who played for New Jersey from 2017-19 pumped his fist after scoring his sixth goal of the season.
Boyle signed a tryout contract with Pittsburgh and made the team after not playing in the NHL last season. He became a fan favorite with the Devils as he returned from treatment for leukemia early in the 2017-18 season, then contributed to New Jersey’s only playoff berth since 2012.
”There were some tough times in between but these fans, this organization, the way they supported my family and I … it’s always really great coming back and seeing those people that did so much to lend a helping hand,” Boyle said. ”My wife, we were talking last night – `How’s it feel to be back? Are you happy? Excited?’ – And of course I am. It’s a great, special place, it really is.”
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Boyle, who has 118 games of playoff experience with six different teams, has proven to be a crucial addition to his first-place squad.
”He’s a good pro, first and foremost. And he commands a certain level of respect by his teammates just based on the career that he’s had,” Sullivan said. ”He does a lot of the thankless jobs that I think help teams win and really that’s what he’s brought to our team.”
Guentzel cemented the win with an empty-netter at 18:53, his team-best 24th goal of the season. Assists went to Rust and Sidney Crosby, who had two in the game but remains stuck on 499 career goals.
The Penguins are 11-3-1 in their last 15 against New Jersey and have won five straight at the Prudential Center.
”It’s just effort and determination really,” Boyle added. ”We’ve got to continue to keep momentum.”
Rust scored 36 seconds into the third to put the Penguins ahead 2-1, tipping a shot by defenseman Kris Letang and past Gillies for his 17th goal. It came 6 seconds after a bench minor penalty to the Devils had expired.
Rust has scored in five straight games and has 16 goals and 28 points in his last 16 games.
Hischier tied the game at 2 with his 13th goal of the season at 2:51 of the third, extending his goal-scoring streak to four games.
Hughes opened the scoring for the Devils at 7:02 of the second. Playing for the first time since missing three games in COVID-19 protocols, he beat Jarry for his 13th goal of the season.
Matheson tied it with his seventh goal of the season at 13:16 of the period, rifling a shot from just inside the blue line.
Gillies made 31 saves for New Jersey.
”A few bounces went for them. That was the difference,” Gillies said.
NOTES: The Devils were without leading scorer Jesper Bratt because of an upper-body injury and F Janne Kuokkanen because of a wrist injury. New Jersey also scratched F Andreas Johnsson and D Christian Jaros. … Pittsburgh F Evgeni Malkin returned after missing the previous two games in COVID-19 protocols. … The Penguins scratched Ds Radim Zoharna and Mark Friedman. … Pittsburgh F Teddy Blueger is out until March with a fractured jaw.
Penguins: Host Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Devils: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
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