NEWARK, N.J. – Under normal circumstances, a victory over the last-place New Jersey Devils in mid-February might be cause for much celebration.
Under these circumstances, no one would blame the Pittsburgh Penguins if they passed around champagne bottles the whole flight home
Bryan Rust scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period, and the Penguins secured a 4-3 victory Tuesday night. It was their first victory in four tries against the Devils this season.
"They had our number this year," said defenseman Chad Ruhwedel, who had the goal that ended up being the winner. "It felt good to come in here and get the win."
The victory helped the Penguins quite a bit in the standings. It was moved to a second place in the Metropolitan Division, two points on Columbus and two points behind second-place Washington. It also bumped into three points clear of ninth-place Carolina in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference
More importantly, though, a dominant second period gave a blueprint for how they need to play to emerge as a legitimate contender
With the score tied 2-2 after one, the Penguins turned into one of their best possession periods in weeks, taking a 20-1
It also produced a pair of goals, the first mood from an impressive individual effort by Jake Guentzel midway through the period.
right-wing boards in the defensive zone, then flew diagonally through the neutral zone. When Devils defender stepped up to stop his progress, Guentzel scooted up the left-wing boards and shuffled a pass to rest that left hash marks for a shot match goalie Keith Kinkaid. than three minutes left in the period. ] It was the first goal of the season for Ruhwedel, who spent weeks at a time as a healthy scratch until Olli Maatta was injured Feb. 11. It was the fifth goal scored by a Penguins defenseman in the last two games.
"That second period was really good at us," Ruhwedel said. “We were in the offensive zone. Guys were moving their feet. It was fun to be a part of. ”
Second period aside, the Penguins showed at times, how they suffered three losses to the Devils earlier in the season.
With less than five minutes left in the third, Matt Murray gave up a goal on a slowly sliding Miles Wood shot from the left wing to make it 4-3.
"I thought he was pretty solid for the most part," Sullivan said of Murray. "Obviously that one that squeaked in, the third one, it is what it is."
In the first period, the Penguins committed several blunders. Jesper Bratt got lost in a defensive off-face faceoff for a goal, and Marcus Johansson stripped off the stick of Kessel for another.
The Penguins fought back in the first with goals by Aston-Reese and Nick Bjugstad before pulling away in the second
"They had our number," Aston-Reese said. “It was nice to get that one, especially going down the stretch into the playoffs. Those are important wins. ”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at email@example.com or via Twitter . margin: auto; "src =" https://triblive.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/771085_web1_771085-167904958f344237bbc597a3afbd646d.jpg "/>
Penguins players celebrate a goal by Chad Ruhwedel ( 2) during the second period against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, in Newark, NJ