Pittsburgh – The Pittsburgh Penguins may finally be starting to figure things out. Just in time — they hope — for a playoff push.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 shots for his fourth shutout of the season and the surging Penguins beat the New Jersey Devils 2-0 on Tuesday night for their third straight win.
“I think we’re making progress,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think we’re getting better. I know there’s another level to this team.”
One Pittsburgh has flirted with reaching during a 5-1-2 surge to the All-Star break. Sidney Crosby picked up his 17th goal of the year for the Penguins, a goal-line flip past Cory Schneider on the power play late in the first period. The two-time MVP has scored in each of Pittsburgh’s last seven home games, the longest home scoring streak of his career.
“He’s playing inspiring hockey,” Sullivan said of Crosby. “I think he’s playing with passion. He’s playing hard, he’s playing in the battle areas and he’s getting rewarded for it.”
Crosby downplayed his recent uptick, pointing instead to improved work with the man advantage and all-around better play by a team that’s spent most of the first half as one of the league’s biggest disappointments.
“We’re definitely rolling,” Crosby said. “We have come with that same level of desperation and hopefully the puck will keep bouncing that way.”
Phil Kessel added an insurance goal as Pittsburgh drew even with the Devils for eighth place in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break.
Cory Schneider made 29 saves for New Jersey, which saw its four-game winning streak snapped. The Devils went 0-for-4 on the power play, managing just one shot on goal during 8 minutes with the man advantage.
“We just got outworked,” New Jersey coach John Hynes said. “We didn’t win any puck battles.”
Panthers 5, Maple Leafs 1
In Sunrise, Florida, Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck scored power-play goals and the Panthers rolled into the All-Star break on a good note by topping Toronto.
Hurricanes 5, Blackhawks 0
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Riley Nash scored twice, Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist and the Hurricanes routed Chicago in the final game before the All-Star break for each team.
Sabres 3, Senators 2
In Ottawa, standout rookie Jack Eichel scored twice to erase a one-goal deficit and Buffalo came back to beat the Senators.
Blue Jackets 5, Canadiens 2
In Montreal, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson each had a goal and an assist to help Columbus beat the Canadiens and sweep a home-and-home.
Ducks 6, Bruins 2
In Boston, Corey Perry scored his 20th goal and added an assist for Anaheim.
Jets 5, Coyotes 2
In Winnipeg, rookie Nikolaj Ehlers had a hat trick and Dustin Byfuglien added two goals and an assist to help the Jets beat Arizona.
Predators 2, Canucks 1
In Vancouver, James Neal scored late in the third period to lift Nashville over the Canucks.
Sharks 6, Avalanche 1
In San Jose, Joe Thornton had two assists to become the 33rd player to reach 1,300 career points, and the Sharks extended their point streak to 10 games with a victory over Colorado.
Thornton assisted on goals by Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski to reach the milestone.