The New Jersey Devils took on the Pittsburgh Penguins for the sixth time this season. The Devils have a 2-3-0 record against Pittsburgh so far this season. In their last match-up, New Jersey lost 5 to 2 against the Penguins at home. New Jersey is starting a four-game road trip in Pennsylvania and will face Pittsburgh three times and Philadelphia once before coming back home. The Devils will also be without some of their top players such as Mackenzie Blackwood, Ty Smith, Jesper Bratt, and Pavel Zacha, who are all listed as day-to-day. Also, the Devils will be without P.K. Subban who was placed on the COVID protocol list. Scott Wedgewood will go against Tristian Jarry in the net.
With so many starters out for New Jersey, the Penguins looked to take advantage. In the first four minutes of the game, the Penguins rattled off a couple of high-danger chances. With the Penguins registering five shots before the Devils got one, Pittsburgh also scored 3:49 into the first. Mike Matheson was able to get one past Wedgewood after the Devils could not clear the zone. Shortly after, Jack Hughes drew a penalty and the Devils would head to the powerplay. The Devils would register 2 shots but not get one past Jarry. Shortly after, Bryan Rust put one past Wedgewood after a nice feed from Sidney Crosby. Then only 45 seconds later, Brian Dumoulin would dump a puck in at center ice that would bounce past Wedgewood to make it 3-0. The play settled down but New Jersey cannot create any chances. Then, newly acquired Jeff Carter got his first goal with the Penguins to make it 4-0. The Devils got dominated in the first period and only registered 5 shots compared to Pittsburgh’s 13.
The second period began with Scott Wedgewood sitting on the bench and Aaron Dell being brought into the game. Dell’s first chance at a save ended up being the Penguins’ fifth goal. Teddy Blueger gets the goal just 1:12 into the second period. The Devils would come back with more shots on net, but none with a high chance of getting past Jarry. At the halfway mark of the game, Dumoulin would take a tripping penalty to put the Devils powerplay back on the ice. New Jersey would display great puck movement, but would not shoot enough for any good chances. Jonas Siegenthaler would take an elbowing penalty and the Penguins would get their first shot on the powerplay. Evan Rodrigues would score with one second left on their powerplay to make the score 6-0. The Devils would have another chance on the powerplay that would also go into the third period after a Kris Letang interference penalty. The period would end with the Penguins leading in shots 21 to 19.
With the Devils already on the powerplay, they would head to a 5 on 3 after goaltender Jarry took an interference call. Nico Hischier would get the Devils on the board after a powerplay goal. Nick Merkley and Will Butcher would get the assist on the Devils’ first goal. Around 3 minutes later, Nathan Bastian would take a tripping penalty and the Devils would head to the penalty kill. Yegor Sharangovich would score an unassisted shorthanded goal to make the score 6-2. Around four minutes after his penalty, Bastian would get a beautiful redirect in front of Jarry and score the Devils’ third goal. Butcher would be credited with his second point of the game with an assist. At 11:18 in the third Crosby scored the Penguins’ seventh goal from a tough angle. Two minutes later, Hughes gets onto the scoresheet to make the game 7-4. Only a minute and four seconds later, Nolan Foote scores his first NHL goal to make it a 7-5 game. Merkley and Severson get the assists on Foote’s goal. Then, with 39 seconds left, the Devils get within one after a goal from Andreas Johnsson. The Devils ultimately fell to Pittsburgh, who led in shots 32 to 30.
Even though the Devils were able to score 6 goals in the third period but were not able to complete a comeback. The experienced Penguins lead in takeaways, shots, blocks, and obviously goals. New Jersey also had to battle without five of their starting players in Blackwood, Bratt, Smith, Zacha, and Subban. The Devils dug themselves into a massive hole in the first period and would not be able to crawl out. The lineup is very young and adding the issue of missing key pieces to the team would make for a predictably bad game from New Jersey. They would show fight in the third period but ultimately fall short after an abysmal first period. Along with the loss, the Devils are officially eliminated from the playoffs. The Devils have 11 games remaining in their season.