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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Mar 18, 2024 6:28 pm

Penguins, Devils out to improve fading playoff hopes

crosby

The Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils aim to provide a boost to their flickering postseason aspirations at the other’s expense on Tuesday night when they meet in Newark, N.J.

The Penguins (30-28-9, 69 points) are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight season following a string of 16 consecutive playoff berths (2007-22) — a run that includes three Stanley Cup titles (2009, 2016, 2017). They answered a dismal 1-6-1 stretch by posting wins in two of their last three games to reside five points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference entering play on Monday.

The Devils (32-32-4, 68 points), in turn, have lost seven of their last nine games to sit one point in back of the Penguins. New Jersey capped a 1-3-0 road trip with a 3-1 setback to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.

Captain Nico Hischier opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the third period before the Golden Knights imposed their will against a Devils’ team that was playing on back-to-back days. New Jersey dropped a 4-1 decision to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

“I liked (the) first 50 minutes of the game,” New Jersey interim coach Travis Green said. “They physically took over the last 10 minutes of the game. Whether we were weathered, whether they just raised their game, I thought they had some momentum at different parts. I thought we carried the momentum throughout the game as well. It was back and forth. I thought it was a step in the right direction from (Saturday).”

Jesper Bratt, who leads the team in assists (43) and points (65) this season, was held off the scoresheet for the second consecutive contest and fifth time in six games. He collected a goal and an assist in New Jersey’s 5-2 win in Pittsburgh on Nov. 16.

As for the Penguins, they’ll be looking to snap a five-game road losing skid (0-4-1) when they begin a three-game stretch away from the Steel City.

Pittsburgh does enter Tuesday’s tilt with some momentum, as it sandwiched 6-3 wins over San Jose (Thursday) and Detroit (Sunday) around Saturday’s 7-4 setback to the New York Rangers.

“I think we’re all pushing,” Penguins superstar captain Sidney Crosby said. “We’re all trying to do what we can to put ourselves in that position. We’ve got to go a game at a time and get points.”

Crosby himself has been pushing. The two-time Hart Trophy recipient was mired in an 11-game goal drought before scoring late in the first period on Sunday.

“Been a while,” Crosby said. “Nice to see it go in. Hopefully some more will start to go in. There are some huge games coming up. It would be nice to see some more go in the net.”

Crosby, who leads Pittsburgh in goals (33) and points (68), notched an assist on the second of two goals by Bryan Rust in the first encounter versus New Jersey. Rust, in turn, has two goals and two assists over his last three games.

–Field Level Media

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