Penguins saved by late heroics from Crosby, Letang
PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby tied it with 14 seconds left in regulation and Kris Letang scored the only goal of a shootout, lifting the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Crosby pounced on a loose puck and fired it by Keith Kinkaid for his NHL-leading 15th goal as Pittsburgh bounced back from an ugly loss in Minnesota on Friday by rallying past the Devils.
Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel picked up his third goal in six days, and Tom Kuhnhackl earned his first goal of the season. Evgeni Malkin had three assists while extending his point streak to eight games.
Matt Murray settled down after a rough start and finished with 27 saves. He turned aside New Jersey’s PA Parenteau, Mike Cammalleri and Travis Zajac in the shootout.
Cammalleri scored twice for the Devils and now has seven goals in his last five games. Vernon Fiddler added a short-handed goal and Kinkaid made 46 saves, but was in no position to stop Letang in the shootout.
The Penguins improved to 15-0-1 in their last 16 games following a regulation loss.
Pittsburgh is in the midst of a baffling stretch of dominant performances and duds in equal measure. The latest came in a 6-2 loss to Minnesota on Friday in which the Penguins surrendered three power-play goals and did little right, a loss that came less than 48 hours after an overwhelming 6-1 romp at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.
Coach Mike Sullivan switched up the lines against the Devils, reuniting the “HBK” line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel while moving 40-year-old Matt Cullen alongside Crosby and Conor Sheary.
It didn’t exactly light a fire. While the Penguins managed to pepper Kinkaid with shots, they didn’t exactly generate quality scoring chances early on. Instead it was the Devils who found plenty of room behind Murray. Cammalleri’s wrist shot from the right circle put New Jersey up 3:33 into the game.
Pittsburgh briefly went in front with two goals in 75 seconds in the second. Guentzel, who scored twice in the first period of his NHL debut on Monday, tapped in a rebound and Kuhnhackl scored his first regular-season goal since April by deking by Kinkaid and casually slipping the puck into the net.
The momentum didn’t last. Murray let in a bad goal when Fiddler flipped a backhand breakaway between Murray’s legs for New Jersey’s second short-handed goal of the season 4 minutes into the second. Cammalleri drilled a one-timer by Murray 9:19 into the second to put the Devils back in front.
It looked as if it would hold up in the final seconds. Crosby stood off to the side during a massive scrum in front of the New Jersey net when the puck somehow came right to him. He flipped it by Kinkaid to continue his torrid pace. He has 15 goals in 16 games this season.
NOTES: The Penguins gave Devils D Ben Lovejoy and F Beau Bennett their Stanley Cup rings before the game. The two helped the franchise to its fourth championship last spring. Lovejoy signed as a free agent in the offseason while New Jersey acquired Bennett in a draft-day trade. … Pittsburgh went 0 for 5 on the power play. The Devils were 1 for 2.
Devils: Continue a four-game road trip in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Penguins: Visit the New York Islanders on Wednesday. Pittsburgh is 2-0 against New York so far this season.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.