ShareThis Page
Penguins

Patchwork Penguins defeat Devils behind Rowney, Crosby

| Friday, March 17, 2017, 10:00 p.m.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby looks back at his goal against the Devils in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby looks back at his goal against the Devils in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby blisters a shot past Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaidin the first period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby blisters a shot past Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaidin the first period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray makes a save on against the Devils' Joseph Blandisi in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray makes a save on against the Devils' Joseph Blandisi in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Chad Ruhwedel checks the Devils' John Moore in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Chad Ruhwedel checks the Devils' John Moore in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Nick Bonino scores against the Devils in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Nick Bonino scores against the Devils in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray stops the Devils' Taylor Hall in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray stops the Devils' Taylor Hall in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Jake Guentzel celebrates his goal against the Devils in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Jake Guentzel celebrates his goal against the Devils in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Brian Dumoulin and Sidney Crosby celebrate with Jake Guentzel after Gunetzel's goal against the Devils in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Brian Dumoulin and Sidney Crosby celebrate with Jake Guentzel after Gunetzel's goal against the Devils in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Justin Schultz, Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel celebrate with Sidney Crosby after Crosby's goal against the Devils in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Justin Schultz, Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel celebrate with Sidney Crosby after Crosby's goal against the Devils in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
The Devils' Kyle Palmieri starts the scoring in the first period against Penguins goaltender Matt Murray Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Devils' Kyle Palmieri starts the scoring in the first period against Penguins goaltender Matt Murray Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Carter Rowney celebrates his game winning goal against the Devils in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Carter Rowney celebrates his game winning goal against the Devils in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Ian Cole takes out the Devils' Travis Zajzc in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Ian Cole takes out the Devils' Travis Zajzc in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Penguins makes a save on the Devils' Taylor Hall in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins makes a save on the Devils' Taylor Hall in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Nick Bonino beats Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Nick Bonino beats Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid in the second period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Conor Sheary centers a pass with the Devils' Kyle Palmieri in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Conor Sheary centers a pass with the Devils' Kyle Palmieri in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Penguins goaltender makes a kick save even after being pushed into the net by the Devils' Miles Wood in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender makes a kick save even after being pushed into the net by the Devils' Miles Wood in the first period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Penguins makes a save on the Devils' Travis Zajac in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins makes a save on the Devils' Travis Zajac in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Carter Rowney beats Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid in the third period for his first NHL goal and the game winner Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Carter Rowney beats Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid in the third period for his first NHL goal and the game winner Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Phil Kessel celebrates with Sidney Crosby after Crosby's empty net goal puts away the Devils late in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Phil Kessel celebrates with Sidney Crosby after Crosby's empty net goal puts away the Devils late in the third period Friday, March 17, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.

Part of coach Mike Sullivan's reputation as a deft communicator comes from his ability to recognize when to offer a simple message and when to let his words soar until they lift the Penguins' spirits.

Even while down seven lineup regulars, including star center Evgeni Malkin, in Friday's 6-4 win over New Jersey, Sullivan settled for something succinct and stoic.

“When you play 100 games a year, it's not like you can go in with a Knute Rockne speech every night,” Sullivan said.

Pace favored the hosts throughout their win, which put the Penguins one point behind league-leading Washington in the standings. A lineup lacking Malkin, Carl Hagelin, Bryan Rust, Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta and Ron Hainsey still possessed the skating talent and offensive skills to pull New Jersey out of its stubborn, structured game plan.

“That's the discussion we had (Friday) at 5:30 p.m. before the game: This is a great opportunity here for our team to grab two points (in the standings) and put ourselves in a better position moving forward,” Sullivan said. “What I love about our players is we have a driven group. We've got a motivated group. These guys, they're internally driven. They inspire their coaching staff.”

Five players scored for the Penguins, including 27-year-old rookie Carter Rowney, who buried the winner 5 minutes, 17 seconds into the final period to get his first NHL goal. Sidney Crosby had two goals, including an empty-netter with 34 seconds left.

Rowney, regarded as a long shot to even reach the highest level of hockey slightly more than two years ago, also earned the primary assist on the Penguins' fourth goal, which Nick Bonino delivered to cap a perfect three-on-two rush.

“Every injury (on the team) creates an opportunity and opens a door, so I think you've just got to make the most of it,” said Rowney, who secured his two points in just 5:10 of ice time.

Bonino, stuck in a scoring slump until early March, swooped into the offensive zone flanked by Tom Kuhnhackl on his right and Rowney on his left. Kuhnhackl moved the puck to Rowney, who fed Bonino in the middle.

“It's very streaky — I think I've always been like that,” said Bonino, who upped his total to five goals in his last six games. “(Scoring balance) is one of the reasons we had success last year. It's been streaky, like I said, this year. But if there's a time for all four lines to start scoring, it's March and April and into the playoffs.”

Likely to New Jersey's chagrin, end-to-end action and scoring chances abounded for both sides in the first period. The Devils scored a season-high six goals one night earlier against Philadelphia, but as the team with the worst scoring production in the Eastern Conference, they recognized the futility of trading chances with the NHL's goals leader.

Neutralizing the Penguins' ability to push the pace sat at the top of New Jersey's agenda. Unfortunately for the visitors, many forms of the Penguins' speed became apparent in their three first-period goals.

Beau Bennett, traded from the Penguins to New Jersey at the draft last June, finally found the back of the net against his former team as he rifled a juicy rebound past Murray with 51 seconds left in the middle period to cut the Devils' deficit to 4-3.

“I think they're probably playing a little bit looser now that they have nothing to play for, so that probably had something to do with it,” Murray, who finished with 32 saves, said of the Devils' offensive urgency. “They had a lot of young guys who are trying to prove themselves, and those young guys played really hard. … It was a little bit different than what we're used to against Jersey, but I'm just glad we got the two points tonight.”

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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.

click me