Aching for wins, Devils face hurting Penguins


It probably wouldn’t be their preference, but the host Pittsburgh Penguins might want to be prepared for their game Friday against the New Jersey Devils to go beyond regulation.

For the seventh time (3-0-4) this season, and the fifth time in the past seven games, the Penguins were tied at the end of regulation Thursday in a game that ended in a 4-3 overtime loss against the Islanders in New York.

“We’ve got to take the point and move on. We’ve got an important one (Friday) night,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

Overall, Pittsburgh has lost two straight.

Pittsburgh continues to be plagued by injuries. Although winger Patric Hornqvist returned Thursday, forward Sidney Crosby (sports hernia surgery) and defenseman Kris Letang (undisclosed) remain out. And there are two more recent injuries to players who will be out longer term — defenseman Justin Schultz (undisclosed) and center Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery).

“Guys stepped up like everybody has been,” Penguins goaltender Matt Murray said.

Pittsburgh backup goalie Tristan Jarry is likely to start Friday. It will be just his fifth start, sixth appearance, in the team’s first 23 games, and while his record is 2-3-0, other numbers indicate he has done a good job avoiding rust — a 1.98 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.

While the Penguins have to turn their attention to Friday’s game in a hurry, the Devils have been off since Tuesday.

That has given New Jersey a few days to stew over a 5-1 loss at home against the Boston Bruins that ended a two-game winning streak and shot down the latest chance to win three in a row for the first time this season.

For a couple days leading into that game against one of the top teams in the East, the Devils built it up as a big night, but then gave up three third-period goals.

“Everything we talked about Monday and (Tuesday) morning in terms of how we wanted to play, we needed some traction and all that — and then we come out with (that loss),” New Jersey captain Andy Greene told the Star Ledger.

“We play one, two (good) games in a row, then we come out with this. It’s on us in the locker room. We’ve got to be ready to play, focused, dialed in. We know the game plan. It’s about going out there and executing. We don’t do that,” Greene said.

The Devils figured how they fared in that game is a microcosm of why the season hasn’t gone as well as hoped through a month and a half. They sit near the bottom of the East with seven wins, only five in regulation, in 20 games.

“We were told over and over by the coaching staff that we had to have this game (against Boston). We know we had to have this game,” New Jersey’s Will Butcher told the Bergen Record. “We didn’t come up with it. That’s on us.”

Now the next game they need to win is at Pittsburgh, a Metropolitan Division matchup.

“I think the big thing is consistency and reliability,” New Jersey coach John Hynes said. “That’s the big thing. The big thing with our team this first 20 games has been inconsistency period to period or inconsistency in certain games.”

–Field Level Media

Source: Yahoo Sports

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