Demons take down the penguins to spoil Sidney Crosby’s first season

PITTSBURGH – Jesper Pratt scored a third-half penalty to spoil Sidney Crosby’s debut of the season and help the New Jersey Devils beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Saturday night.

Crosby pulled Pratt into the hole three minutes before the end of the game, resulting in the decisive penalty shot. Pratt skated to the right and beat goalkeeper Tristan Jarry with a backhand.

Crosby sat out the first seven Penguin Games after undergoing wrist surgery. 8. Jeff Carter, who also played Saturday for Pittsburgh, missed three games after entering the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol after a positive confirmed test.

Andreas Johnson scored two goals for New Jersey, including an empty goal with 1:43 remaining. Jimmy Vesey had a short-term goal.

Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves for the Devils who opened the season with four wins in their first six games. Bernier kept the tie at 2 in third place with two key energy saves. He made a gauntlet on Jake Guentzel and paused one after another on Kasperi Kapanen.

Jesper Pratt scores a penalty kick past Tristan Gary during the Devils' 4-2 win over the Penguins.
Jesper Pratt scores a penalty kick past Tristan Gary during the Devils’ 4-2 win over the Penguins.

Danton Heinen scored his fourth goal, while Brock McGinn scored his second for Pittsburgh. The Penguins were outperformed 13-3 on three straight losses after starting the season in a five-point streak. Gary has saved 36 times.

Heinen opened the scoring for Pittsburgh at 12:23 of the first period. Defenseman Juuso Riikola, who played his first NHL game in nine months, helped make the goal with a secondary pass. This was his first point since January 12, 2020 in Arizona. Heinen scored four goals in eight games for Pittsburgh after scoring seven times in 43 games last season at Anaheim.

Johnson equalized 37 seconds before the end of the period in which his center passes hit Evan Rodriguez’s Penguin sledge and into the net.

Vesey gave the Devils a 2-1 lead with a short-handed goal late in the second.

McGinn tied 2 at 2:02 of the third period.

Crosby is back in his familiar spot as Pittsburgh’s first line center, along with Rodriguez and Goetzel. Crosby, in his 17th season in the National Hockey League, tied Hall of Fame owner Mario Lemio for most play with the Penguins.

Carter will put his second streak with Evgeny Malkin out of the squad until at least December while he recovers from knee surgery in June. Carter finished top of the Penguin streak in the first four games of the season in Crosby’s absence. It’s one game out of 1,100 in the NHL.

Malkin and striker Brian Rust are skating alone, while defender Chris Letang remains on COVID-19 protocol after a positive confirmed test. Rust occurs from week to week with lower body injury.

Bernier is back in the squad after missing three matches with a lower body injury. Goalkeeper Mackenzie Blackwood is also close to returning from a lower body injury.

Jack Hughes will be out for at least five more weeks with a dislocated left shoulder. Hughes, seeded #1 overall in the 2019 draft, was injured October 19 against Seattle in the Devils’ second game of the season. Hughes scored two goals in the Devils’ opening win of the season against Chicago, including the overtime winner.


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