Penguins get one last chance to beat last-place Devils
NEWARK, N.J. — There is a long list of reasons the Pittsburgh Penguins still find themselves fighting for a playoff spot late into February, but near the top is this: They’re 0-3 against New Jersey this season.
They’ll have one last chance to beat the last-place Devils on Tuesday night in Newark.
“I just think we’ve got to better (than) the games that we’ve played,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “You’ve got to give them credit. They’ve played three really good games against us. We have to be better. It’s just one of those things where Jersey plays a hard, structured game. We understand that’s the type of game we’re up against. Our players are well aware. There’s no surprises out there. We’re well aware of what the challenge is. Now we’ve just got to embrace it.”
It’s easy to theorize that the Penguins have struggled with the Devils because they’re not taking an opponent near the bottom of the standings seriously, but there’s obviously more to it than that.
The Penguins have been outscored 15-6 in their three losses to the Devils. There must be something about New Jersey’s style of play that gives them fits.
“They’re a very patient team,” defenseman Jack Johnson said. “They’ve always been a very patient team since I’ve been in the league. Seems like they’re just fine playing a 1-0, 2-1 game. Lot of times, you get in trouble with teams like that when you do things that are self-inflicted.
“And they’ve had good goaltending against us. I think those are the two biggest things that have caused us some problems.”
Goaltending can’t be overlooked. Keith Kinkaid has been magnificent against the Penguins this season, going 3-0 with a .944 save percentage. He’s 12-17-6 with an .887 save percentage against the rest of the league.
Kinkaid will be opposed by Matt Murray on Wednesday night. Murray is 0-2 with an .831 save percentage against the Devils this season. He’s 17-8-1 with a .919 save percentage against the rest of the league.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .