NY Islanders Johan Sundstrom and NJ Devils Patrik Elias wait for the puck drop.(Brandon Titus/Inside Hockey)

Star-Struck Devils Lose to Pens

The last time this writer has ever heard of a team that was so star-struck they actually just handed the game over to the other team was when Jaromir Jagr was still playing for the New York Rangers. Players on the other team were just so in awe of him, they practically just gave him the puck every time they hit the ice. They couldn’t believe that they were sharing the same ice as him.

To hear Patrik Elias talk about being so in awe with the Penguins on Marty’s St. Patrik’s Day, the anniversary of Martin Brodeur’s 552nd win and Elias becoming the Devils’ all-time leading scorer when he tallied his 702nd career point, it seems a bit shocking coming from this seasoned veteran.

In the 60 minutes of play, Elias said that the team probably only played a good 18 minutes.

“If it weren’t for Marty Brodeur,” coach DeBoer said. “We would have given up ten.”

The Penguins registered 44 shots on goal in the match, as compared to the Devils 14.

“We know their skill,” Elias said. “I think we gave the team obviously too much respect. They jumped at us. We stopped playing a little bit after that. In the second period, we make a couple of mistakes and all of a sudden we felt like the game was over.”

“We lose the focus. That’s all. They’re just hockey players. They’re good hockey players, but they’re just hockey players like us. We just got to play and not think about other things too much and who we’re playing against. Just play our game. When we do that, we’re okay. We’re a good team.”

Elias said that when they respect a team too much, they sit back and hesitate too much.

“We were kind of looking around,” Elias said. “They’re going to make some plays. They work extremely well as a five man unit out there.”

In Sidney Crosby’s second game back, the Penguins had their second 5-2 win in a row, stunning two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. After their win over the Devils, they were only one win away from the number one spot in the East, currently held by the New York Rangers.

Their 5-2 win just looked so easy, thanks to a little help with the officiating.

In the 60 minutes of play, the Penguins only had four penalties…mainly little minors like elbowing and hooking. Only one roughing penalty was called. The Devils, on the other hand, received four 10-minute misconducts, which tossed four Devils out of the game.

Which Devils? The ones known to pack a punch and brawl when needed were the ones singled out. Eric Boulton, Ryan Carter, Steve Bernier, and David Clarkson all received a major penalty during the last 11 minutes of the game. Boulton was the first to head to the penalty box at 9:00 in the third period. Carter and Bernier headed to the locker room at 13:35. Clarkson received his roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 15:56, along with his 10-minute major.

Clarkson was just sticking up for his goaltender when he ‘thought’ Evgeni Malkin crashed into Brodeur.

“I just saw Marty down,” Clarkson said. “I saw Malkin there, so I figured it was him. I just went in and gave him a shove.”

“I just collided with [Salvador] and Malkin,” Brodeur said. “I don’t know which one, or two, hit me there. I just fell awkwardly and that was it.”

Clarkson’s “shove” landed him with 14 minutes worth of penalties in the last five minutes of the game.

Clarkson’s reaction is the stuff that fans want.  This is what they want from their team.  When someone runs their goaltender, they want to see a teammate stick up for their goalie. This is what teamwork is about…sticking up for each other and being there for each other. But when you’re playing against the Penguins…it will get you tossed from the game and the other team gets a little slap on the wrist.

Deryk Engelland got that little slap with a 2:00 roughing penalty when Clarkson went after Malkin. That was the first time he got called for a penalty. This is also the same guy that got into a bit of a tiff with Boulton which landed the Devil in the penalty box with a misconduct, while he got off scott free.

The reason for the four misconducts? DeBoer said that the officials were just trying to avoid fights at the end, so it was just easier to throw them out of the game.

As for the Penguins having their team back together again after so many injuries, Crosby’s line dominated once again. Crosby assisted on three of the five goals.

James Neal scored the first goal at 1:59 into the game. With Ilya Kovalchuk heading into the Penguins zone, he dropped the puck back to Andy Greene, who then tied up the game at 16:57, with his first goal of the season.

In the middle period, Pascal Dupuis tallied his 20th goal of the season at 10:10. Matt Cooke scored his first of two goals at 11:44.

With Clarkson in the penalty box for roughing, Malkin scored at 12:42 to give the Penguins a 4-1 lead over the Devils.

In the final stanza, Petr Sykora was able to work some of his magic to tally another goal for the Devils at 2:26. But that second goal was all the Devils would get out of their 14 shots. Cooke would go on to score his second goal of the game at 5:56 to give the Penguins their second consecutive 5-2 win in the New York area.

This was also Cooke’s second two-goal game in a row.

“We didn’t show up like we needed to in order to make a play,” Clarkson said of the loss.

What was so different about the Penguins now as compared to the last time the Devils met up with them?

“Sidney Crosby,” Brodeur said. “Letang… and Staal… that’s good enough for me to be a different hockey team.”