The Devils fell 5-4 to the Pens in the much anticipated showdown at The Swamp. Even though they fell behind by three after one and were without Brian Gionta (groin) and Colin White (upper body), the Atlantic division leaders fought the second place up and coming Penguins to the bitter end, falling just short during a frantic last minute. But with Martin Brodeur pulled for an extra attacker, they couldn't find the back of the net against Marc-Andre Fleury. The younger netminder made two tough saves in traffic and allowed his D to get in the path of other attempts, including a key block by Sergei Gonchar before the defenseman cleared the zone to propel Pittsburgh to another win.
With 71 points and still a game at hand, the Pens are very much alive to steal the Atlantic crown. They're now just five off the pace and closing fast. There are either three or four match-ups left between the division rivals. If the intensity is anything like the end of tonight's contest, those should be must watches.
Ironically, the deciding goal was scored by superpest Jarkko Ruutu, who beat Brodeur to a rebound for his second of the night (yes he really did score twice even if I thought I was hearing things on my radio). Sidney Crosby did finally get a point in CAA with a power play tally. And Jordan Staal continued his great play with his 24th. Brian Rafalski, Patrik Elias and rookie Travis Zajac all scored in a losing effort for the Devils.
So, what does this Pens win mean aside from the fact the division is now a race again? It still means they need to go out and get a shutdown physical defenseman because for almost the four consecutive game, they nearly squandered a multi-goal lead. The Pens can roll four lines as proven by how effective ex-Ranger Dominic Moore was in one late shift, even agitating Brodeur in what could've easily been a roughing minor on the future Hall of Famer. But what this team lacks is the kind of defender who can make life difficult for an opponent late in these kind of games. Pittsburgh might want to give Columbus a call and inquire about Adam Foote. He knows what it takes to win.
What does this mean for the Devils? Well, for starters, it concluded a pretty successful homestand in which they lost just twice. What they can take out of tonight is even without two of their key players, they were very much in the game. And John Madden is a warrior. He missed only one game due to that nasty cut sustained from an Eric Perrin shot.
Wyshynski Special Jagr Column: If you've followed Sportsfan Magazine's Greg Wyshynski's career the past few years, then you know how talented the writer is. Also covering the Capitals for TFP, he recently wrote an interesting feature on ex-Cap and resident bad boy numero uno Jaromir Jagr. It depicts why the current Broadway Blueshirt is hated in the nation's capital and even gets into for as physically gifted a player as the 600 goal, 1500 point member is, why No.68 can still frustrate some of his own fans. It's a terrific read. The link is provided below:
Everybody Hates Jaromir