NHL Hockey

6
Final 1 2 3 Tot
New Jersey 2 2 2 6
Pittsburgh 0 1 2 3
3
4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, January 28, 2019
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  Attendance: 18,609

Penguins host Devils, seek fast second-half start

New Jersey Devils at Pittsburgh Penguins

  1. The Devils are 5-0-1 in their last six games against the Penguins and are riding a three-game win streak in Pittsburgh. New Jersey has held Pittsburgh to 2.2 goals per game in those six contests thanks to a .935 save percentage and a 92.3 penalty-kill percentage.
  2. The Devils closed the first half of the season with a three-game losing streak that saw them outscored 8-1 in the first period and trailing after one in each game. New Jersey has earned just 13 points this season in games in which it has trailed at any point, the lowest total in the league.
  3. The Penguins fell to the Golden Knights in Las Vegas, 7-3, in their last skate before the break. The seven goals were their most allowed this season and the loss was their third in four games (all on the road). Pittsburgh has not played at home since January 8 where it is 10-3-0 (.769) in its last 13 games.
  4. Kyle Palmieri has two points (2g) in his last eight skates. This season, Palmieri has recorded 17 goals and 15 assists when teammate Taylor Hall was in the lineup (33 games; 0.97 points per game) and has recorded just five goals and one assist during Hall's absences (15 games; 0.40 points per game).
  5. Jake Guentzel has not had back-to-back games without a point since November 19, totaling 35 points (18g, 17a) since then. His 18 goals over that time tie him with John Tavares (Tor) for fourth most in the NHL behind only Alex Ovechkin (Was, 24), Johnny Gaudreau (Cgy, 23) and Steven Stamkos (TB, 20).
  6. In the Devils' last visit to the Steel City (November 5), Brian Boyle recorded his first career hat trick in a 5-1 victory. That was the first hat trick by a Devils skater in Pittsburgh since October 28, 2000 when both John Madden and Randy McKay scored four goals in a 9-0 whitewashing of the Pens.

The break is over for the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils, who meet Monday night at PPG Paints Arena.

Both teams lost Jan. 19, their last game before entering an NHL-supplied bye week and the All-Star weekend break, but each is in a much different situation overall.

Pittsburgh (26-16-6) is fourth in the Metropolitan Division, where six points separate the top four clubs, and holds a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

New Jersey (18-23-7), with 43 points, matches Ottawa for the lowest total in the East, although the Devils have two games in hand on Ottawa.

For the Penguins, there is a chance at quick upward mobility if they can stack together a string of wins, as they did when they won nine of 10 before a 2-3 road trip through the Pacific Division that ended Jan. 19 with a 7-3 loss at Vegas. The game against the Devils begins a three-game homestand.

Teams often refer to the flip side of the All-Star Game as the second half of the season, even though the schedule is past the midpoint, and consider it an opportunity to correct and improve for the stretch drive. It often comes with a harsh assessment.

"I think we show glimpses of what we're able to do," Pittsburgh All-Star Kris Letang said. "Obviously, it's a hard thing to do for 60 minutes. We have to put in our brains that until the end of the year, it's going to be a tough fight to get in the playoffs. We'd better start playing with that same edge that we're able to do (at times)."

Winger Patric Hornqvist, while insisting he wasn't concerned about where the Penguins stand, offered a bit of criticism.

"We can't just have one good period a night. We have to find a way to play hard 60 minutes," he said. "This group has been through a lot, so I have no doubt in this group."

The Devils, meanwhile, have 34 games to make up 15 points in the standings - the difference between them and the Penguins -- to nudge into a playoff spot.

They dropped their last three games before their break, including a 3-2 home loss to Anaheim Jan. 19.

New Jersey All-Star Kyle Palmieri noted that "it's been a roller coaster of a season for us. We've got a lot of games left. There's a lot of hockey to be played. Hopefully, come out of the break and build some momentum."

Coach John Hynes was much more blunt, indicating New Jersey has been playing too soft at times.

"If you look at our team, we do lots of good things, but when push comes to shove, we get shoved," he said.

Hynes pointed to 5-17-3 road record as evidence.

"When you don't win on the road as much as we have not, there is a hardness that you have to have on your team, a mental toughness, a hardness to play in those environments, and we didn't have it in the first half. We need to build it more," he said.

Hynes pointed specifically to his team's play along the boards, in the corners and in front of both nets, often called the gritty areas.

"What we've really seemed to struggle with this year is when there are teams that drag you into the competitive battle, we've had too many passengers in those games," he said.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 27, 2019

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