Penguins bedeviled in New Jersey again behind early goal, tight defense
NEWARK, N.J. — Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has lost a divisional road game only 22 times in five years.
Nearly half of those losses have come against one team.
New Jersey's airtight defense and goaltender Martin Brodeur again silenced the high-scoring Penguins, winning a 2-1 decision Tuesday at Prudential Center.
The Penguins (29-12-1) mustered a season-low 20 shots, and while they misfired on a couple of golden opportunities, they were generally outplayed in a fashion that has become familiar over the years. New Jersey has kept the Penguins from producing 30 shots in all four meetings this season, with the home squad winning each time.
“It was pretty similar to other games here,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who set up defenseman Matt Niskanen's goal and now has points in 34 of 42 games this season. “We actually had some good chances that didn't go in, but yeah, it was pretty similar.”
The Penguins preach not falling behind against the Devils while playing in Newark. Such a scenario often becomes lethal, given New Jersey's long history of protecting even the smallest leads to perfection. Even so, it took only 98 seconds for Adam Henrique to convert on right wing James Neal's turnover and beat goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, giving the Devils a lead they never would relinquish.
“You never want to come out sloppy, but we did,” Niskanen said. “It's just something that is really a problem in this building. They put the clamps down on you when they have a lead. They're so good with the lead, and they were again today.”
Bylsma acknowledged this game felt essentially the same as so many low-scoring setbacks. Still, he said the Penguins improved as the contest ensued. And they had their chances.
Center Brandon Sutter was unable to convert on a two-on-one in the third period, and center Jussi Jokinen hit the post.
“We really did make a good push in the second half of the game,” Niskanen said. “We started winning battles, playing with some jam. It just wasn't enough.”
It rarely is in Newark for these Penguins.
Bylsma's teams are 35-8-3 on the road against every other divisional opponent since 2009. However, on the road against the Devils, the Penguins are 2-10-1.
Bylsma wasn't delighted with how his team played in the opening 30 minutes — Crosby and Neal, among others, were guilty of glaring defensive zone turnovers — but the Penguins appeared on the verge of evening the game.
Not long after Henrique opened the scoring, Crosby won a battle behind New Jersey's net and, with Brodeur out of the cage, found a wide open Chris Kunitz. However, Kunitz, who collected the puck near his skates, was unable to hit the open target.
Such missed opportunities in New Jersey can serve as a bad omen.
“That was a big one for us,” Bylsma said. “It would have been an answer right back.”
Instead, the Penguins are still looking for an answer against the Devils.
They valiantly fought off all four of New Jersey's power plays — “They could have blown the game open at any of those moments,” Bylsma said — but didn't appear to have much left in the tank when they received their only power play with 4:48 remaining, producing only one shot.
Crosby admitted that going to work with a man advantage for the first time in a 55-minute span is difficult.
“I think it was pretty typical,” he said of the ineffectiveness. “Still, it was an opportunity. You've got to find a way.”
Bylsma simply shook his head following the game, again unable to will his team past the Devils.
“It went to script,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Donora-Webster Bridge plunges into Mon River after 107 years
- Pirates grind out extra-inning win against testy Tigers
- Union to work while ATI talks continue
- Shopping season starts up for Penguins amid onset of free agency
- ‘We are’ chant now a permanent fixture on Penn State campus
- In historic vote, Legislature approves bill selling state liquor stores
- Pa. could ease restrictions on fireworks, reaping big bang in taxes
- Penguins notebook: Sheary hoping to return to organization
- 1 killed, 4 hurt as police chase ends in Oakland crash
- Regatta moving bands off Barge Stage
- Shareholders approve Heinz, Kraft merger