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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, April 9, 2021
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey  Attendance: 3,600

Penguins look to remain on track against Devils

Pittsburgh Penguins at New Jersey Devils

  1. New Jersey has taken two of the three meetings this season, most recently winning 2-1 in overtime at PPG Paints Arena on March 21. However, the Pens have won two of their last three trips to New Jersey dating back to last season, including a 3-1 victory in their last visit on March 20.
  2. Pittsburgh split a two-game set with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden this week, losing, 8-4 on Tuesday before rebounding to win 5-2 on Thursday. The Penguins have scored four goals or more in seven of their last eight games and are 16-2-0 (.889) when scoring four goals or more this season compared to 9-11-2 (.454) when held to three or fewer.
  3. Kris Letang tallied two points in both games against the Rangers and has four multi-point games in his last seven skates. Letang's 32 points (7g, 25a) this season rank fifth among NHL defensemen this season and third among MassMutual East Division blueliners behind the Rangers' Adam Fox (37) and Washington's John Carlson (34).
  4. New Jersey's 6-3 win over the Sabres on Thursday tied its largest victory this season (also 5-2 at Rangers on February 16) and marked the Devils' most goals scored since a 6-4 win at Madison Square Garden on March 7, 2020. The Devils went 2-for-3 on the power-play in the win, the first time this season they've scored multiple power-play goals.
  5. Pavel Zacha scored two first-period goals in Thursday's win for his second consecutive multi-point game; he had just one such game in his first 35 this season. Zacha's goals came just 1:41 apart, the fastest two goals by a Devil since Taylor Hall scored 1:12 apart on December 21, 2018.
  6. Ty Smith notched two assists on Thursday and leads all NHL rookies with 19 helpers this season. Meanwhile, teammate Janne Kuokkanen matched a career high with three points (g, 2a) in Thursday's win. The Devils have gotten 74 points from rookies this season, most in the NHL.

Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils enter their Friday game at Newark, N.J., buoyed by winning performances Thursday night.

The visiting Penguins topped the New York Rangers 5-2, allowing just 24 shots and snapping out of a defensive funk during which they allowed 15 goals over two games, both losses.

The Devils ended an 0-2-2 slide with a 6-3 road win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Pittsburgh successfully got back to the type of strong two-way play that produced success before the two straight blowout losses. In the 11 games before those two, the Penguins allowed a total of 16 goals.

They had insisted those two high-scoring defeats were an anomaly, not an omen for bad habits that might plague them for a stretch of time.

"We did a better job," said Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, who had a goal and an assist Thursday. "We knew we had to turn the page quick."

With the victory, Pittsburgh improved its road record to 9-10-1.

Looking ahead to Friday, even if injuries hadn't opened a spot on the fourth line, the Penguins probably would find a way to dress rookie Radim Zohorna against the Devils.

In his fourth NHL game Thursday, the 6-foot-6, undrafted Czech native opened the scoring with a swooping play and nifty goal. Zohorna, 24, added a second-period assist, giving him two goals and four points for Pittsburgh.

Zohorna, who signed with the Penguins about a year ago, was one of four players Thursday who had a goal and an assist against the Rangers.

"We've really liked what we've seen from 'Z' from the minute he's been in training camp," Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. "We've been really intrigued by his game.

"We think he has good hockey sense. He's got good offensive instincts. He's really strong on the puck for a big man."

The Penguins and Devils still have five games remaining against each other. Pittsburgh is 1-1-1 through the first three meetings.

New Jersey is languishing in also-ran territory in the East Division, while the Penguins are in contention for the East title.

New Jersey blew a 3-1 lead Thursday against the last-place Buffalo Sabres, who forged a 3-3 tie, but the Devils responded with three third-period goals for a 6-3 win.

The final period could be a template for New Jersey to follow moving forward.

"Played the game the right way," Devils coach Lindy Ruff said.

In its first game since trading veteran forwards Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri to the New York Islanders ahead of Monday's NHL trade deadline, New Jersey got a couple power-play goals from Pavel Zacha and a goal and two assists each from Jack Hughes, Yegor Sharangovich and Janne Kuokkanen.

"It's never easy to see guys get traded, especially guys like that," Zacha said.

The Devils didn't just bounce back following the trade. They also recovered from a 5-3 loss to Buffalo on Tuesday, when the Sabres scored the game's final three goals.

"I think we learned from the last game," Zacha said. "We put more effort into the (defensive) zone, and we got rewarded ... (but) there's another game (Friday) and we have to refocus."

--Field Level Media

Updated April 9, 2021

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